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New England Patriots Links 3/14/11 - Amidst Labor Uncertainty, Belichick Focuses On Draft

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Mike Reiss tells us what to know about the NFL lockout and how it affects New England.

Players are disappointed. "I think everybody pretty much feels the same way, we just want to go back to work," cornerback Kyle Arrington said. "Hopefully this thing resolves itself -- the sooner the better."

Draft preparations continue. Bill Belichick has been in Florida this week on his annual scouting trip. Earlier this week, he watched film with University of Miami defenders Allen Bailey, Brandon Harris, Colin McCarthy, DeMarcus Van Dyke and Ryan Hill, and was planning to attend the school's Pro Day on Thursday before it was postponed because of rain. This reflects how Belichick is focusing on the draft while most everything else is uncertain.

Players, coaches and others potentially affected. Teams can't sign, cut or trade players, or interact with them during the lockout. Players also won't be paid workout bonuses or other money due to them in the offseason, while coaches and support staffers could potentially have their pay cut.

Logan Mankins could fight for freedom. Mankins had been assigned the franchise tag last month, and some in the NFL Players Association previously expressed the belief that he'd have a strong legal case to earn free agency during the lockout. Mankins could potentially argue that he couldn't be restricted by the franchise tag while also being locked out by owners. This will be something to monitor from a Patriots perspective.

Mike Reiss reports Patriots center Dan Koppen was a guest on Sirius NFL Radio Sunday morning, discussing the NFLPA's decision to decertify and the ensuing lockout.

"I don’t think anybody is shocked by what happened yesterday," Koppen said on the program. "You have a deadline and if a deal can’t get done, you have to take certain measures to protect yourself in the long run."

Koppen shared his opinion on some of the health and safety rules the NFL has proposed, such as offseason programs going from 14 weeks to nine weeks, with organized team activities reduced from 14 to 10.

"I think the offseason and the OTAs, as far as contact and wear and tear – limiting that – I don’t really feel that’s in any way hindering or making my body feel worse," he said. "It’s one of those things where if you take five weeks away, that’s five weeks of less preparation time you have to get ready for the season, which is a long season and you have to be in shape and ready to go.

"As far as taking the pads away in the practice, I think that’s a good idea, a good start of talks, in how we can limit that. Playing 16 games and four preseason games, playoff games and what have you, you’re in a lot of car crashes. Any time you can take hitting away from the game a little bit, and focus on some other things, I think that will save the body a little bit. The OTAs are not contact and the offseason is just working out, and you should really be working out anyway. It’s a place to start."

"We want to play football. The public wants us to play football. The owners want us to play football. So as a player, it's kind of hard for me to understand why we can't reach a deal somehow. Whether it was our side, or their side, it doesn't really matter, there is no deal."

TEAM TALK

LOCAL LINKS

  • Karen Guregian reports the Patriots are looking for a man to play the elephant position, like Willie McGinest did, to make the defense so much better.
  • Mike Reiss offers some quick-hit thoughts from around the NFL and with the Patriots.
  • Mike Reiss lists four picked-up pieces from ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper's conference call with reporters earlier this week.
  • Mike Reiss reminds us about two players that can be added into the mix when assessing the Patriots personnel at running back: Navy's Eric Kettani and Tyree Barnes.
  • Mike Reiss analyzes a mock draft that has the Patriots taking DE Cameron Jordan (California) and OT Derek Scherrod (Mississippi State).
  • Greg A. Bedard lists the proposals that each side said they put forth. Of course, they're light on the details, but here they are for what it's worth.
  • Mike Reiss points out that on this day last year, Patriots players were already at Gillette Stadium for Day 1 of the team's offseason program.
  • Christopher Price looks at five ways the Patriots will be affected by the lockout.
  • Tom E. Curran offers 6 quick hits to start your NFL work stoppage.
  • Ian Rapoport notes the lockout will be a critical check point for NFL players, and how well they planned financially.
  • Ian Rapoport lists the monetary breakdown of dollars in offseason payments to players that will be delayed or never paid due to the lockout.
  • Tom E. Curran reports Pete Kendall, a former player who was in negotiations, slams the league's offer of financial transparency.
  • Michael Felger thinks the players have every right to question the owners' need for more 'operating expenses,' especially since many teams are run like a family business.
  • Barry Wilner, AP reports Goodell and the players remain confident a deal will be reached.

NATIONAL NEWS

  • Tim Graham (ESPN) AFC East wide receiver power rankings.
  • Kevin Fishbain (Pro Football Weekly) Light moves up Patriots' priority list.
  • Mike Mayock (NFL.com) Defensive players lead the way on list of top 32 prospects.
  • Wes Bunting (Nat'l Football Post) NFL Draft rumors: What we are hearing now that we are into the heart of pro day season.
  • Dan Pompei (Nat'l Football Post) Sunday Blitz: Includes his mock draft with the Patriots selecting OT Tyron Smith (Southern Cal) and OLB Justin Houston (Georgia).
  • Kerry J. Byrne (Cold Hard Football Facts) MIT's Dorkapalooza: where intangibles go to die.
  • Tim Graham (ESPN) AFC East labor impact.
  • Tim Graham (ESPN) How rich are the AFC East owners?

LABOR LUNACY