Amid ongoing speculation regarding a possible player strike during the 2010 season (and some very influential people in union circles are now openly talking about the possibility of a December walkout, if it could be legally accomplished), another potential weapon has emerged for players who feel that they have been cornered by the rules of the uncapped year — and management’s decision to take, in most instances, full advantage of the situation.
Players and agents are frustrated by the low activity in free agency and the slow pace of the labor negotiations. One agent outlined for us today a possible assault on one of the tools that teams will have available even after the current labor deal expires in March 2011.
With or without a new deal in place, a rookie draft will be held in April. But, as a practical matter, the players who are drafted won’t be paid a dime until the labor situation is resolved. When they are, they likely will be forced to deal with a true rookie wage scale.
So, as the agent explained, why should the players who are in line to be drafted do anything to assist the process?
Under this scenario, incoming players would refuse to participate in postseason all-star games like the Senior Bowl, the Scouting Combine, and any pre-draft Pro Day or individual workouts.
It sounds good in theory, but it will be hard to make it stick. For starters, the agents representing the bulk of the incoming rookies would need to be on board with the strategy, willing and able to explain to the players that it’s in their best interests to decline to participate in the process, since it will help all players get a new labor deal done. Sure, some guys who are on the fringes of the incoming player pool would break ranks in the hopes of cementing their chances of getting drafted at all, but if most of the key agents are on board, it just might work.
Though it remains to be seen whether any such effort is attempted, we fully expect the growing discontent among players and agents to manifest itself via one or more aggressive tactics directed against the league. Coordinating a boycott of the pre-draft process by players not yet in the union would be one of the most daring plans, but also potentially one of the most effective.