Back from a week in furlough limbo, which is not unlike being locked out, except that unlike Eagles players, I was not barred from my workout facility, Royal Fitness in Barrington, N.J. I just didn't get there much because I'm old and lazy.
I figured going into the week that nothing would happen on the NFL labor front, and I was right. That was what I took from the NFL meetings in New Orleans two weeks ago, that the lawyers on both sides have the owners and the players convinced of the slam-dunkedness of their respective cases, and that there was no prospect of movement until after Wednesday's hearing in front of U.S. District Judge Susan Nelson in St. Paul.
Interesting thoughts on that matter this morning, with Pro Football Talk digging up a reference from ESPN.com's John Clayton that seems to indicate the players recently tried to get something going, talkswise, and were shot down by the owners. That could be the result of something else that commissioner Roger Goodell and other management figures made clear at the New Orleans meetings -- they are going to do nothing that would lend legitimacy to the decertified union, the "trade association." Goodell spoke of being willing to talk again with "the union," indicating it would need to drop the decertification effort for talks to resume. A big part of the NFL's strategy here for keeping the lockout intact is getting the decertification acknowledged as a sham by the NLRB. Right now, that strategy trumps any thoughts of being able to reach an agreement.
Updating, those impressions were confirmed this afternoon by a follow-up piece written for the nfl.com, by Albert Breer. The league's refusal indeed was over the union's "trade association" contention.
Of course, Nelson probably isn't going to do anything Wednesday that will get either side moving back to the bargaining table. Her decision on whether to grant an injunction lifting the lockout is expected to take several weeks. I would peg the Eagles' chances of being allowed to trade quarterback Kevin Kolb before the April 28-30 draft at much less than 50-50 right now.
One of the reasons there has been no impetus toward settlement is that other than the free agents who might have been signed, nobody's life is miuch different so far than it would have been without the lockout. If you follow players on Twitter, you know that they haven't been consumed by concern yet over missing out on the teams' offseason conditioning programs. Today the Vikings canceled a predraft minicamp they'd scheduled for this coming weekend. The Eagles always hold their first minicamp the week after the draft.
Meanwhile, the only significant Eagles development I'm aware of is a sad one, the death of wideout Jason Avan't father in a South Jersey auto accident last week. Excellent job today by the Daily News' Jason Nark, following up on that.
Finally, Matt Maiocco, who covers the 49ers for CSN, has analyzed and ranked every team's draft since 2006. I'll spare you some suspense -- he rates the Eagles 12th in the NFL.
I'm a little puzzled by his choice of Trevor Laws as the worst pick in that timeframe, instead of Victor Abiamiri. First I thought he was talking worst FIRST pick -- even though Laws (2008) and Abiamiri (2007) were taken in the second round, Laws was the first player drafted by the Birds that year, whereas Abiamiri came after Kevin Kolb. But looking at other teams' listings, that doesn't seem to be the criterion, so I'd have to disagree with Matt there. The light came on for Laws last season, he was decent if not dominant, whereas Abiamiri has never been healthy and has no role on the team at present.