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By now you have likely heard that our long national nightmare is nearing its end.
NFL owners and players, perhaps inspired by their preschool age children and grandchildren, have figured out that sharing things can be fun for everybody.
All information leaking out from both sides indicates that a deal will come sooner rather than later, returning football to the masses yearning to be entertained.
While we wait to see just how the i's are dotted in the final agreement, we are also starting to think about how our two local teams will greet the resumption of league activities. The answer we've settled on is that no one in the personnel department of the Giants and Jets will be sleeping for about a week after everything is signed and notarized.
The word right now is that there will be a 72-hour window after the end of the lockout during which teams will be able to re-sign their own free agents before the marketplace opens up to further movement. For the Giants and Jets, those 72 hours could be essential to pointing their teams to success in 2011.
The Giants have four key players on the cusp of free agency in Kevin Boss, Ahmad Bradshaw, Barry Cofield and Steve Smith. The Jets have a bunch of their stalwarts in play thanks to the pending free agency of Antonio Cromartie, Braylon Edwards, Shaun Ellis, Santonio Holmes and Brad Smith.
Re-signing some of those guys before they hit the open market seems impossible. Bradshaw, Cofield, Cromartie and Holmes have waited months for their chance to peddle their services to bidders, so why wouldn't they wait 72 more hours to find out how much people are willing to pay?
The Redskins have been linked to both Cofield and Holmes, a scary prospect given how little regard Daniel Snyder has shown for paying people salaries commensurate with their abilities. Bradshaw's name has been brought up in conjunction with the Dolphins, a team with a serious need at running back and a serious need to make the playoffs if the powers that be want to keep their jobs.
Unless the Giants and Jets open up their checkbooks to obscene levels right away, they will run a serious risk of watching those key contributors walk away to other teams. When you factor in how little time teams will have to integrate new players without a full offseason and how much chaos will be in play when free agency gets underway, coming up with suitable replacements is hardly a sure thing.
The good news is that the hypercondensed offseason means players like Ellis and Smith will likely be looking to return to their old stomping grounds. Smith is coming off a serious injury and knows that the Giants will use him the right way, so why wouldn't he want to come back, even on a one year deal, to prove he can still get it done?
Ellis is closing in on the end of his career, which would seem to make the idea of stability an appealing one over the unknowns that await on the other side of the lockout. The Jets might look to spend his money elsewhere, but why try to teach a new dog your tricks when the best defensive lineman on last year's team is sitting right there?
We ask those questions rhetorically, but they both might wind up being real ones that come with surprising answers. Predicting with much confidence what those answers might be is probably a waste of time given how little framework we have to use in figuring out how this unusual period in football is going to play out.
We've gone without football for a long time. We're going to have more of it than we can handle soon enough.