Saturday, May 10, 2008

First Effects of the Labor Strife

by: Michael Steffes

This is a subject that I have been meaning to bring up, especially because it seems to be something that is effecting the Seahawks quite dramatically right now. If you haven't heard, the number of players allowed at teams mini-camps has been reduced by the loss of the NFL Europa exception. Six players less per team. That may not seem like a lot, but it actually could effect teams, and the Seahawks specifically.

First, if you want to gain a greater understanding of why this has happened, and the league wide effects, I suggest you read this article by Don Banks. It links the reduced rosters back to the upcoming negotiations between the players union and the owners. It also talks about how teams are coping.

Lets look at how this is effecting the Seahawks....

First, the quarterback issue. This may not seem like a big deal, but the Hawks have usually had 5 quarterbacks on the roster during the offseason. Usually a NFL Europa guy, and a deep developmental prospect like Derek Divine. Who Jim Zorn just added to the Redskins if you hadn't heard. Clearly he saw something he liked.

But back to the issue. First, the Seahawks need to be looking at quarterbacks. It is possible they will have to replace the 3rd stringer next year. While Devine may not have been the answer, maybe this years version would have shown more. Second, the QB's in camp are going to have to make a lot more throws. This may help build chemistry, but it could also invite more injuries. Since this is the first year, more data on that will be available next year. But think of it this way.... What would the Hawks have done with out the extra QBs last year with Matt recovering from surgery? They would have had to waste a precious roster spot simply to avoid burning out Wallace. Getting Frye looks like a good move for the simple reason that there are two guys who can feasibly run the offense in camp. Would you want a no name Division III guy running with the 2nd team? No, it wouldn't help them develop much would it.

Also, the Hawks have a lot of O-line injuries right now. With Jones, Spencer, and Sims down, the team is using a lot of young guys. Because the o-line is so hobbled, it takes away from skill positions players that could be in camp. The Hawks were running with 5 wr's the other day. That is ridiculous. And they only had 5 because they opted to let go of Travis Brown for a player without the rookie tag. He was quickly snatched up. My guess is the front office knew this would happen and weren't too happy about having to make the move.

Another example of the effect? Did you hear who was long snapping at veterans camp? Olindo Mare. Tyler Schmitt had to leave because of the rookie rule. Olindo Mare? It would be nice if he could work on his kicking and not his snapping right. We may need him to make a few kicks next year. But with 4 specialists already taking up spots, a second long snapper would have been a wasted spot.

No one knows what the long term effects of less bodies in camp will be, but in the short term it is effecting teams. How dramatically, only time will tell. What it does tell us now, though, is that this labor issue is quickly becoming a reality. This will not be the last short sighted decision made in the name of the upcoming fight.

This is only minor. Wait till next year when teams start having to negotiate contracts with knowledge of the possible strike. It will be interesting to see how it is done. Players are going to want their money UPFRONT, even more so than usual. Fortunate for Hawk fans, we have Paul Allen. But I bet even rich owners like Allen are going to be skeptical of handing out big checks when the revenue might disappear for a while. As exciting a time as the next few years figure to be for the Seahawks, as fans, make sure you enjoy them, because a labor struggle is looming. We can only hope a lockout doesn't have to be part of the equation. That would make smaller rosters seem like a walk in the park.