At most spring NFL owners meetings, the agenda isn't spicy.
The spring meetings usually are designed to clean up leftover items from the annual March meetings. This year is different. Owners head to San Francisco on Tuesday for meetings filled with intrigue and tension.
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, steaming over the four-game suspension of quarterback Tom Brady because of Deflategate, will be in attendance. This will be the first time since the Brady decision that he will be in a room with commissioner Roger Goodell.
Goodell is in a tough spot. As commissioner, he always has stressed the importance of protecting the integrity of the game. He decided to hear the Brady appeal, which is his option under the collective bargaining agreement. Kraft doesn't believe Brady or anyone in the Patriots organization did anything wrong.
It will be interesting to see how both principles handle things in San Francisco.
If Deflategate weren't enough, owners will be updated on the possibility of two franchises moving to the Los Angeles area. St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke remains full speed ahead on his plans to build a stadium in Inglewood. A push also is underway to build a stadium for the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders in Carson.
In the meantime, things are heating up for stadium projects in St. Louis and San Diego. In fact, politicians in San Diego are expected to present their stadium plans for the Chargers on Wednesday. What's curious is that the San Diego plans are being announced in San Diego, not in San Francisco, where the Spanos family will be with the rest of the NFL owners.
No vote is scheduled on any stadium project, but owners will get their first feel for what lies ahead. Most people believe the Rams will move to Los Angeles. San Diego has a chance to keep the Chargers, but they are prepared to move if things can't be worked out. The Raiders need a new stadium, so owner Mark Davis will be looking to see where his franchise fits.
From the football side, owners are expected to pass a major change in what happens after touchdowns. In March, owners ordered the competition committee to come up with a proposal. It is recommending having two-point conversions from the 2-yard line and point-after kicks from the 15. New England has a similar proposal. The Philadelphia Eagles proposed having two-point conversions from the 1.
The league will also come up with a protocol changes to prevent future Deflategates. "The process of handling footballs before games will change from here on in in the NFL,'' Dean Blandino, the NFL's supervisor of officials, tweeted last week.
It's safe to say that no team attendant will be allowed to handle the footballs after the pregame checks by officials.
From the inbox
Q: A very serious question on deflated footballs for Roger Goodell that I wish the media would ask. Assuming the integrity of the game is your top priority, why did you allow a game to be played with footballs that the NFL knew were compromised? The officials state they always accompany the moving of the balls from the locker room to the field. If this is true, the backup balls should have been utilized in the first half since the first bag was compromised.
Gillis in Raleigh, North Carolina
A: While officials were advised to be on guard for possible deflated footballs by the Patriots, everything checked out as far as the pregame meeting, so officials followed the normal protocols. Officials operated on the concept that no one tampered with the balls, so the game went on as normal. It was not until Colts linebacker D'Qwell Jackson intercepted a Brady pass in the second quarter that anyone had an idea that the balls had been deflated. The Colts checked the gauges and notified officials at the half. That's when officials made their checks and tried to fix the problem. What everyone seems to be missing is the point that no one in the league figured anyone would be bold enough to deflate footballs after the pregame meeting and before the start of the game.
Q: While watching the overabundance of Deflategate coverage, there have been scientific explanations for pounds per square inch dropping and also a lot of guys saying that they just go by "the feel" of the ball. Why hasn't there been a "taste test" of sorts where random folks are given balls ranging from 13.5 to 10.5 psi and see if they can feel the difference. An underinflated ball is easier to grip and hold on to, and if Average Joe off the street can tell the difference, there's no excuse for equipment managers or quarterbacks to not know. I believe the Patriots don't fumble very much at home, either, and that can be coaching/technique, but an underinflated ball sure is easier to secure.
Kerry in Fredericksburg, Virginia
A: There have been taste tests like that. Kelly Ripa did it the other day on "Live! with Kelly and Michael'' and identified the underinflated football. I've seen Jerome Bettis and Mark Brunell identify the footballs correctly. There have been scientific test and non-scientific tests.
Q: Do the Patriots get salary-cap relief from Tom Brady's suspension without pay? If they do, the Patriots will end up getting a million-dollar bonus instead of a million dollar fine?
Chuck in New Orleans
A: You are 100 percent correct. If the four-game suspension is upheld, the Patriots save $1.8 million of cap room. The fine was $1 million for the team. The team would also have the option of reclaiming signing bonus money, but you know New England won't do that. The Patriots don't care about the money. They want their starting quarterback on the field.
Q: I am thrilled with the Giants' draft and their offseason signings. They have been given a good amount of credit for their selections; some real upstanding players and young men in general. The Cowboys have added some good players, too, although they come with some serious red flags: Greg Hardy, Randy Gregory and La'el Collins, for example. And yet the Cowboys are lauded for their offseason and draft. What is the NFL doing with its personal conduct policy at this point? The "integrity" of the NFL is getting hit every which way, whether it's players, coaches, owners, GMs or franchises. What do you think should be done about all these incidents and negative attention surrounding players, teams and the NFL in general? Will the NFL (or Goodell) be able to manage the storm of conduct issues, or will it all come to a head at some point soon?
Alex in Cincinnati
A: Like every team in the league, the Cowboys will be fined if players miss games with suspensions. Living in Cincinnati, you know those rules. The Bengals used to take risks on players with questionable pasts. When the suspensions mounted up, the league put in rules that fined the team if the suspensions passed a certain level. Since then, the Bengals have done a great job of drafting and signing players with good backgrounds. The Cowboys are gambling that Hardy, Gregory and Collins won't have problems and will be good players for them. If they are not, they will have to pay.
Q: Why didn't a team take a chance on La'el Collins and draft him in the seventh round? Many seventh-round picks don't make the roster, so it's worth a shot. That's a lot of money for a 21-22 year old to say no to. If he still refuses, after he was cleared, you trade his rights for another pick and you lose nothing or he sits for a year.
Alec in St. Louis
A: Collins' agents did a great job of talking teams out of taking him in the seventh round. I'm sure the Rams were willing to do it. Collins' agent said he would not have signed with a team that picked him in the seventh round, so the Rams kept the pick and went a different direction. Any team that drafted Collins would have controlled his rights for four years if he signed. Hoping to make the best of a bad situation, Collins' agents figured it was better for him to sign as an undrafted free agent so he could be a restricted free agent and get a payday in his fourth year.
Q: I'd like to know your take on Chip Kelly. My understanding is he took the Philly job because of the talented roster. But going into his third season, he has rid himself of almost every asset that made coaching in Philly desirable. Why choose Philly then? If he truly had a grand scheme in mind, why not position himself to make a real go at Marcus Mariota?
Elias in Mexico City
A: The roster was talented enough for Chip to win 20 games over his first two seasons. That success enabled him to gain control over personnel. Now, he can do things his way. Kelly is about winning. Sure, he has rid the Eagles of some of their best players, but there hasn't been a drop-off in the performance of the team. He was never going to be in position to get Mariota because he wouldn't sacrifice a season by giving up what it would take to get into the top five of the draft.
Garrett in El Segundo, California, wonders if Goodell's public relations experience early in his NFL career is being used in his decisions on penalties. Garrett believes some of the decisions are tied to public opinion. I think you are onto something. Goodell believes strongly about safety and integrity. Possibly because of that, the consistency of the rulings has been lacking.
Matt in Richmond, Virginia, wonders why the San Francisco 49ers didn't draft an inside linebacker or go for some offensive linemen in the draft or free agency. Good question. The front office felt good enough about the depth, but those two positions took some serious hits this offseason.
Paul in New York had an interesting thought. He says if the Cowboys need a running back, why not sign Ray Rice? Wow, could you imagine that following the additions of Hardy, Gregory and Collins?