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Ask PFW: Still locked out

Posted May 31, 2011

Another light week on the question front as the labor situation has left many longing for NFL life as we know it. This week we look at some questions surrounding the team if and when things return to normal.

What do you see the guard position looking like at beginning of the season? Logan Mankins is uncertain about signing his franchise tender, Dan Connolly plays better in the fill in role, Stephen Neal has retired and I’m not sold on other in-house options like Ryan Wendell. Any free agent possibilities to fill in especially if Mankins doesn’t sign his tender?
Mark

The offensive line, and the guard spot in particular, is indeed an area of concern. That was a major factor in the team selecting tackle Nate Solder in the first round. But that won’t do much to help the guard situation. Mankins is upset about the franchise tag but unlike last year he’d be risking some serious money by not accepting the tender and returning for the start of the season. Last year it was a matter of a million or two. This year it would be more like 10. That’s one reason I believe Mankins will return, even if he decides to skip training camp again. Another is his desire to become a free agent. If he doesn’t sign the tender then he’d remain under the Patriots control. Because the team used the franchise tag, Mankins’ ability to move is greatly prohibited. That will likely remain the case moving forward since New England isn’t likely to let him walk while getting nothing in return. My guess is Mankins will skip camp and be back once the regular season starts. Connolly will open at right guard, a position he’s played capably in the past. Wendell will likely be the first option off the bench should either of those two get injured. If there is any semblance of free agency, I could see the Patriots picking up a veteran interior linemen at some point – Oakland’s Robert Gallery is a name that’s been thrown around, although his price tag may be too high – in order to add some depth there.
Paul Perillo

Carson Palmer says he’s going to retire if the Bengals don’t trade him. Can he retire and then go back to the NFL to play with another team? Is that even allowed?
Chris Morton

Palmer will be under the Bengals control for the life of his contract, which has four years left and runs through 2014. If Cincinnati chooses not to trade him, then Palmer would be unable to play for any other team unless he fulfills those four years. He can’t retire and come back for the 2015 season and simply pick his new team. If he doesn’t honor the contract his flexibility would be zero. If he truly wants to play for another team, he’d have to get traded or released in order to do so.
Paul Perillo

Why would an owner need the court’s permission to close his facility? And how can the employees (players) force him to open it in court? Is that specific to the NFL?
Ted K.

A lot of this stuff is specific to the NFL – or professional sports at the very least. In simplest terms, the owners don’t want to shut down their business; they’re simply looking to lower percentages of revenue the players will receive. The owners didn’t need anyone’s permission to do this but the players sought help from the courts to ensure their rights and initially won and each side is now awaiting an appeal. The players felt they had the right to earn a living and argued they were willing to do so but were prevented by the owners’ lockout. Therefore, the courts were involved. Ultimately we will find out if the courts deem these actions to be lawful or not.
Paul Perillo

I have always felt that if a player commits an illegal hit that injures a player, causing said player to miss games, the penalty should be every game the injured player sits out. So, if James Harrison takes out a player and that injured player is out for six games, Harrison should sit for the same number of games if it’s deemed it was an illegal hit by the NFL. Then you'll see players playing the game hard but yet within the guidelines.
Chop Block33

This post actually came in on our new comment section of Patriots.com in regard to our “Debate Friday” post last week. We offered opinions on the league’s proposal of fining teams for having multiple offenses on illegal hits. This poster suggests suspensions to coincide with any injury sustained by virtue of the illegal hit. I feel that wouldn’t be a wise course to take. First, not all illegal hits result in injuries. So, a lucky offender who disregards the rules could skate without a suspension if he’s fortunate enough not to injure anyone. Second, and more importantly, opposing teams could certainly use this to their advantage. Let’s create a situation where the Patriots play the Jets and Darrelle Revis is guilty of hammering Taylor Price with an illegal hit. The teams are scheduled to play each other Oct. 9 and Nov. 13 this year – a span of five weeks. Wouldn’t it be tempting for the Patriots to hold out Price for five weeks, not only taking the Jets best defensive player out for their rematch but also for the other games New York would play in the interim. Don’t think team wouldn’t employ such a tactic, either. It would be almost a certainty, especially in a situation where, like Price, the injured players isn’t necessarily an indispensible part of the offense. Too much room for foul play there for my liking. I have no problem with suspensions for multiple offenders if that’s what it takes, but coinciding the suspensions with any injuries suffered is a dangerous game.
Paul Perillo

I don’t agree with the new rules. Football is a tough sport and always has been. As they continue to add these special rules they’re chipping away at the very character of the game. The toughness and the potential danger are part of the appeal of the game. Going out on the playing field in difficult circumstances while fighting back your inner fears and still getting the job done is what it’s all about. Football is like a metaphor on life. Life is not easy and it’s seldom fair. In life there are winners, losers and whiners. And personal character is usually the deciding factor in how it plays out. I don’t want to see the game watered down anymore or we may all just as well start watching ping pong matches. I hear that’s really exciting.
Originalpatsfan

This is another comment from our “Debate Friday” post and one that, although put in harsher terms than I would use, I generally agree with. We’ve spoken about the recent movement to curtail the violence in football at length on our “PFW in Progress” shows over the years and we all agree that dangerous, intentional headshots have no place in the game. But things are starting to get a bit out of control the other way when perfectly legitimate hits are being deemed illegal based on a player being defenseless and whatnot. To me, all of this can be simplified greatly by using the unnecessary roughness penalty to cover all bases. As we say on the show, you know unnecessary roughness when you see it. You don’t need competition committees to detail every last item of the rule book. Let the players play and the officials officiate.
Paul Perillo

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