Before we get to the division, a quick word on these "secret" talks between the NFL and the NFLPA this week. I covered the labor situation extensively at my last job, and I consider this a major development. The people to whom I've spoken with who are connected with this say they believe it's the most serious both sides have been about doing a deal in the more than two years since the owners decided to opt out of the last CBA.
Will it work? Does this mean training camps and the season will start on time? Lots of work to be done yet before we know. But the key thing to understand is that the motivation finally appears to be there on the part of both sides to get one done. The players never viewed their "litigation strategy" as a real solution, only as a defense against the owners' "lockout strategy." They have said all along they were waiting for the owners to get serious about something other than a lockout. If that's the case -- if the owners have decided that the potential for lost revenue if training camp dates and/or preseason games begin to get canceled here in the next few weeks -- then it's the kind of thing that could mean real progress.
Even in spite of their recent success in the 8th Circuit Court, the owners fear what solution the courts might impose on this. And in part because of their recent loss in the 8th Circuit, the players' leverage isn't what it was six weeks ago. They may finally be at a point where each side is willing to give a little. But the key in getting there was that the owners had to be willing to talk about something other than a lockout. The fact that these meetings this week took place without anybody knowing about them ahead of time makes me think they're finally at that point. I'm hopeful for the first time in more than two years that they might actually play all 16 games this year.
Regardless, however, come the links:
A new defensive coordinator, a lockout and a second-round tender that may or may not be honored depending on the structure of the next labor deal have combined to leave Cowboys DE Stephen Bowen in a very uncomfortable position. He'd like to be back.
Nick Eatman would like fans to hold off on the "good riddance" stuff when Marion Barber gets cut and remember the great things he did for the franchise over the disappointments of the past couple of years. Nick, you're too sensible, man.
New York Giants
The Giants worked out for the second day in a row, honoring the labor talks with their own continued media silence. Shaun O'Hara said they'd talk to reporters Friday, which is nice of them but still weird. They planning some big huge announcement? They know something we don't? Labor deal settled by then? New date for the Rapture? What?
Some stats our research department came up with a couple of days ago show how much the Giants suffered when they lost Plaxico Burress. Particularly striking is the 6-1 record against the Eagles while he was on the team and the 0-5 record against the Eagles without him. I'm not sure these numbers necessarily suggest that the Giants need the guy, since he's much older now and the continued development of Hakeem Nicks answers a lot of these issues, but some of the numbers are eye-popping.
We mentioned Andy Reid's non-comments about Plaxico on Wednesday, but far more telling are the comments here from Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, who openly compared the decision on whether to pursue Burress to the team's 2009 signing of Michael Vick. While Eagles coaches and execs worked on building a school playground, Lurie said a lot would go into deciding whether to bring in Burress. "Any player, if there's issues off the field, we have to ascertain ... are they going to represent the Eagles and the community that we serve?" Lurie said to Philly.com. "Are they going to be part of events like this? Michael has shown this. If a player is not willing to be part of the culture we have, then I don't think it's a good fit."
Jonathan Tamari checked in on Nate Allen as he recovers from his knee injury and looks ahead hopefully to 2011.
Stephon Heyer, like Bowen in the earlier Cowboys item, would like to know what's going on with his situation. And the Redskins surely would like to know what they're doing at right tackle.
Some speculation has surfaced in Chicago that the Bears could take a run at free-agent receiver Santana Moss. I think we've all kind of been assuming he'd go back with the Redskins, but this is a reminder that that's no sure thing. Losing Moss would leave Washington in some fairly dire straits at WR, no offense to Anthony Armstrong and the gang.
Stay cool out there today, people.