Publicly, NFL coaches and generals managers at the NFL Scouting Combine said things were business as usual.
"Whatever the rules are, there will be the same rules for 32 teams," Chiefs G.M. Scott Pioli said.
That's true, but not all 32 teams face the same challenges in the event of a long workou. Pioli's Chiefs are relatively well situated to handle a summer off. Others aren't so lucky.
While recent developments indicate we may not have to face a long lockout after all, let's take a look at what teams would be hurt the most by a lost offseason. (And what teams may actually benefit.)
1. Titans: Tennessee faces the Trifecta of uncertainty: They have two new coordinators and absolutely no option to start at quarterback. (Uh, Rusty Smith
2. Broncos: This is the wrong offseason to break in a newbie football czar (John Elway) and a new defensive scheme under John Fox. Trading Kyle Orton
could be nearly impossible, and Tim Tebow
will miss valuable practice time.
3. Browns: Browns football czar Mike Holmgren will pay for delaying the end of the Eric Mangini era a year. Presumptive starting quarterback Colt McCoy
won't get to learn his new scheme and the defensive players don't fit the team's new 3-4 defense. With a first-time head coach in Pat Shurmur, it's like they are starting all over again.
4. Panthers: Notice a trend atop the rankings? Teams with new head coaches are going to be at a big disadvantage if there's a long lockout. The Panthers may be stuck with Jimmy Clausen
as their Week 1 starter in a brand new offense.
5. Vikings: Promoting Leslie Frazier to head coach should help the defense maintain continuity. Then again, the team has holes all over the roster and a potentially limited free agent period to address them. Finding a veteran quarterback will be difficult without being able to trade before the draft.
6. Seahawks: The Pete Carroll Program is entering Year Two, but how much progress was really made? Their quarterback position is actually more unsettled, and the team needs time to install a new offense. This is a team likely to continue a massive overhaul whenever a CBA is reached, so time is at a premium.
7. 49ers: Perhaps Jim Harbaugh has spoken so glowingly of Alex Smith
this offseason because he knows he won't have any better options. An abbreviated free agent period in August or September will lead to a lot of shotgun marriages. (And a high divorce rate next offseason.)
8. Dolphins: Miami would love to add pieces to their bankrupt offense, especially with new coordinator Brian Daboll. Instead, they could get stuck with another season of Chad Henne
in a loaded AFC East.
9. Bengals: The best way to get value for Carson Palmer
would be to trade him before the draft. That won't be possible now, and it's anyone's guess what quarterback will run new coordinator Jay Gruden's West Coast offense next year.
10. Cardinals: Pressing pause isn't a great idea for a team with John Skelton
as their best returning quarterback. Oh, and Arizona's annually disappointing defense has yet another new coordinator.
11. Eagles: New coordinator Juan Castillo hasn't coached defense since the 1980's. He needs the offseason just as much as the players. Any team that is active in free agency like Philly could also get penalized this year. Speaking of which . . .
12. Redskins: Without their annual offseason championship to win, what do the Redskins have? After one year of Mike Shanahan, the roster actually has more holes than when Jim Zorn was dumped.
13. Rams: Teams near the top of our list have a lot of young players with new coaches. St. Louis' offense is extremely green at quarterback, receiver, and tackle. Post-lockout, they will have to take a crash course in Josh McDaniels' playbook – one of the most complex in football.
14. Texans: It will be tough to Wade Phillips to install his 3-4 defense without practice time. The Texans have a lot of players like Mario Williams
and Brian Cushing
playing in very different roles. A bright side: the offense has enough continuity and returning parts to survive a lockout just fine.
15. Bucs: The youngest team in the league needs as much time on the field together as possible.
16. Cowboys: Dallas brought in a new defense coordinator – Rob Ryan – but the scheme remains the same. Continuity is solid on offense, although that's not necessarily a good thing with this aging offensive line.