On Tuesday, the NFLPA canceled a Thursday skull session with a select group of certified contract agents. On Wednesday, the NFL summoned each team’s brain trust for a Thursday meeting in Indianapolis at the Scouting Combine.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the league has directed every team to send its coach, G.M., and one other high-ranking official to a Thursday late afternoon meeting in Indianapolis, site of the Scouting Combine.
The NFL is expected, per Schefter, to brief the attendees on issues relating to labor uncertainty as it relates to football operations, including what will be allowed during the offseason in the event of a lockout, and the type of contact that teams will be permitted to have with agents.
The development shouldn’t be viewed as bad news from the standpoint of the ongoing labor talks. For the same reason that the union hasn’t abandoned the Thursday hearing on the “lockout insurance” case, the league needs to take steps aimed at preparing for the possibility of a lockout. Abandoning such planning devices necessarily would reduce leverage.
So why, you ask, was the union willing to scuttle its Thursday meeting with a select group of agents? We believe the move was made to avoid a situation in which details about the negotiations would be provided to the agents, and then leaked to the media. As to the Friday meeting with all agents, the smart move will be to avoid any discussion about the status of the bargaining sessions, and instead to do the same thing the league will be doing on Thursday — sharing specific information about the rules and realities of a lockout.