Mailbag: Lost season worth shot at Luck?

Arlan from San Francisco wonders whether a prolonged lockout might actually help the San Francisco 49ers by dooming their 2011 season and putting them in position to draft Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck first overall next offseason. He would gladly suffer through one bad season to land a franchise quarterback.

Mike Sando: Lots of things must go wrong for a team to get that No. 1 overall choice. The Carolina Panthers landed the top choice after gutting their roster and employing a lame-duck head coach. A year earlier, the St. Louis Rams emerged with the top choice after winning only six games over a three-year period. They were historically bad.

The 49ers have some issues this offseason, to be sure, but they have more talent than teams that finish with only one or two victories in a season. And while Luck appears to be the obvious No. 1 overall choice one year from now, things can change, too.

I'm with you in the realization that one bad season can be worth it if the right quarterback is waiting on the other side. I'm just not at all convinced the circumstances are bad enough for the 49ers to make that happen for them.

Scott from Sacramento wonders how the Seattle Seahawks' status under the "Final Eight" plan could change if the NFL Players Association receives an injunction against the lockout.

Mike Sando: The NFL would, by most accounts, revert to the rules in place for 2010. Those rules restricted options in free agency for the final eight playoff teams "in any League Year during the term of the Agreement in which to Salary Cap is in effect," according to the collective bargaining agreement.

Restrictions for teams losing immediately before the conference championship games included:

  • Signing one unrestricted free agent that has a first-year salary no greater than $4.925, plus increases tied to league revenue growth;

  • Signing additional UFAs to deals with smaller first-year salaries and year-over-year increases no greater than 30 percent, not counting money paid as signing bonus;

  • Signing one additional UFA for each of its own UFAs that signed elsewhere, provided salaries for the new players did not exceed salaries for the old;

  • Not acquiring by trade players a team could not sign as UFAs based on the restrictions.

These are general parameters. While I would expect them to apply in the case of an injunction against a lockout, I do not know for sure this would be the case.

Robert from Los Angeles wonders whether the Arizona Cardinals might consider selecting a running back in the second round after two disappointing seasons from Beanie Wells. He questions whether Wells can become a long-term starter.

Mike Sando: The Cardinals have too many needs throughout their roster to head in that direction this offseason, in my view. They probably need to bet on Wells one more year while they shore up areas where they have less talent. Running back could become a concern thereafter, depending upon how Wells performs and whether Tim Hightower remains with the team. Hightower is entering his fourth NFL season and could become unrestricted one year from now, depending on what a new labor agreement might say.