As if the temporarily reinstated NFL lockout didn’t make things weird enough, the teams added a new, surreal twist Tuesday.
They sent out one-year tender offers to their draft picks. In any other year, that would be standard procedure. Teams were required to clear adequate cap space before the draft relative to their total number of draft picks to accommodate the minimum-salary tenders that secured the players’ negotiating rights. There is no salary cap in place at present, but because Article 16 of the old collective bargaining agreement was allowed to go forward, the tender clause in the article also had to be satisfied as a procedural matter.
Rookies never sign the tender because they don’t include the hefty guaranteed bonuses of a multi-year contract. But even if a rookie wanted to, he couldn’t, because the lockout rules forbid teams from doing any contractual business.
So, like all the restricted free agents who cannot accept their tenders, the draft picks remain in limbo as the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals decides whether to grant a permanent stay of Judge Susan Nelson’s lockout injunction. A decision on that could come down Thursday.
Also left hanging is the legion of undrafted rookies who normally would have been signed hours after Sunday’s final round. No contact is permitted with those players, either.
Meanwhile, Mark Sanchez and Eli Manning brought together some vets and rookies for informal workouts. Sanchez led a classroom session at his “Jets West” camp in California for 13 players, including rookie WRs Scotty McKnight, Jeremy Kerley and fellow QB Greg McElroy. Manning ran a passing session at Hoboken High that included WR Hakeem Nicks, TE Kevin Boss and RB DJ Ware. The best thing about that is that the rookies were able to be exposed on an unofficial basis to the teams’ otherwise unavailable playbooks, which the veterans procured during the league’s short “open” window last week.