What to expect in a lockout

NFC West colleague Mike Sando has a list of 10 things you need to know about the labor situation. You can check it all out here.

But I'm sharing a condensed version here and addressing the questions I get most from readers. Keep in mind, the deadline for a labor agreement is March 3. If that doesn't happen, a lockout is expected.

  • No agreement means no free agency. The CBA determines qualifications for reaching free agency. In the past, players with at least four accrued seasons could become unrestricted free agents. Nearly 500 players would qualify under those guidelines this offseason, but only if there is an agreement. Those players could have no prospects without a new CBA. Teams hoping to upgrade their rosters could be stuck.

  • The draft would go forward. Teams would select college players, but a long list of questions would follow. Would those players sign contracts? Would teams retain rights to those players? Would there be a rookie wage scale?

  • Forget about trading players. The NFL trading period would generally open in March, but that will not happen without a new CBA. Teams couldn't even trade players during the draft, cutting off a widely used avenue for player acquisition.

  • Players have other immediate concerns. Players accustomed to seeing team doctors and visiting team facilities for treatments would suddenly become responsible for their own health care during a lockout. Securing benefits for family members with special health needs could create challenges. This is an immediate concern among players behind the scenes, but one that doesn't draw much attention from the outside.