As the month in which most of the annual offseason work takes place reaches a conclusion, a slew of young players — including four first-round rookie quarterbacks — have had no access to their facilities or coaching staffs or any of the things that an NFL team does now to lay the foundation for September.
Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, one of the men leading the charge for a management-friendly CBA, says he’s not worried about the fact that his first-round quarterback, also the first overall pick in the draft, hasn’t been able to prepare like first-round quarterbacks usually prepare. “The Panthers are going to be like everybody else and [Newton's] going to be like everybody else, so we all have to adjust and deal with what we have to deal with,” Richardson said at the ownership meetings, per Pro Football Weekly. “I’m not really overly stressed out about it, personally.”
Though Newton has been putting in plenty of hours with budding quarterback guru Chris Weinke, some would say that it’s no replacement for getting to know his new coaches — and for giving his new coaches a chance to get to know him.
“We’re all playing by the same rules,” Richardson said. “If we weren’t, then it would be a different deal.”
He’s right, but he’s also wrong. Though every team must deal with the rules of the lockout, only a handful of franchises could be trying to slap together preparations for a season on the fly with new coaches, new quarterbacks, and/or new coordinators.
The Panthers, 49ers, Titans, Browns, and Vikings specifically will be at a significant disadvantage. But we don’t expect Richardson to acknowledge that. He and his other hard-line partners have decided to push for the deal they want regardless of the short-term consequences — even if those short-term consequences mean that, given little chance to get ready for some football in 2011, their own teams will suck.