Mailbag: Preparing for the unexpected

Michael from Los Angeles wonders how the NFL draft is "legal" without a collective bargaining agreement, and why veteran players couldn't switch teams.

Mike Sando: Article XVI of the collective bargaining agreement begins by saying, "There shall be an Annual Selection Meeting (the 'College Draft' or 'Draft') each League Year during the term of this Agreement and in the League Year immediately following the expiration or termination of this Agreement." That appears to address the first part of your question.

As to veteran players switching teams, we can rule that out during a lockout because the NFL prohibits roster transactions during this time. If there were no lockout, I would expect existing contracts to remain valid, prohibiting signed players from changing teams.

We should nonetheless prepare for the unexpected. There will be surprises now that long-established rules no longer apply.

Curt from Ripon, Calif., says he suspects the Rams haven't hired Josh McDaniels' brother, Ben, as quarterbacks coach just yet because they want him to work with quarterback Sam Bradford while NFL rules prevent coaches and players from interacting without a labor agreement. "Wanna bet on this one?!" Curt writes.

Mike Sando: Betting on mailbag items would probably violate policy. I'm not sure there's an actual rule against it, but why take the chance? That same thinking would apply to the Rams and Josh McDaniels in the scenario you laid out above.

Ben McDaniels would be working on the Rams' behalf, essentially. Why risk violating the rules, in spirit if not in letter, during a sensitive time for the league?

The NFL recently levied a $50,000 fine against Josh McDaniels for his handling of an illegal videotaping incident during his time as head coach of the Denver Broncos. McDaniels is looking to repair his reputation and emerge as a head-coaching candidate again. He can't do that by exploiting loopholes in the rules.

That is my read on things, anyway.

Alan from Washington, D.C., wonders why the NFL couldn't continue with business as usual after the players' union decertified Friday.

Mike Sando: The best I can tell, the main reason is that going that route would heighten the chances for an antitrust verdict that would expose the league to treble damages. Otherwise, I'm with you. Why not just plow ahead?

Eddie from Provo, Utah, thinks Matt Hasselbeck should accept an incentive-laden contract from the Seattle Seahawks to protect the team from paying for a level of performance Hasselbeck has not consistently provided of late.

Mike Sando: I would support more incentive-laden contracts for players as long as they offered protection for significant injuries, but starting quarterbacks command more on the market. And "market" is the key word here.

Seattle might be able to get that type of deal from Hasselbeck if he did not have other options. The reality here is that Hasselbeck probably will have other options. He's going to be a free agent. The Seahawks cannot negotiate this deal solely on their terms unless they're prepared to lose him.

Jim from Portland wants to know how the NFL would determine draft order for 2012 if there were no 2011 season.

Mike Sando: I've heard that question a few times and do not know whether an answer exists in writing anywhere. I couldn't find it in the collective bargaining agreement. My guess is that the 2011 order would carry over. If there were no 2011 season, it's likely that some or all of the 2011 draft choices might never have signed with their teams, which could make things interesting, to say the least.