Owl: The Clumsy Mating Dance

The Owl discusses the annual courtship ritual between rookies and teams, plus thoughts on Peter Boulware.

Certain things irritate me.

  • Trying to open those little packets of soy and sweet-and-sour sauce that come with Chinese take-out.
  • Trying to find a business address where no numbers are posted on the windows, doors, curbs or anywhere noticeable.
  • Reading about how Lance Armstrong did in the 683rd stage of the Tour de France, the bicycle race without end.
  • Standing in line at a convenience store to buy a gallon of milk while the person in front of me, who by appearances cannot afford a gallon of milk, is spending $30 on 20 assorted lottery tickets, scanning his various choices with the eye of an art connoisseur.

But what really gets to me is the way National Football League general managers and agents wait until late July to do their negotiations dance. It's like something you'd see on Animal Planet as romantic male bears fight for the chance to get cozy with the prettiest bear-gal in the forest.

The draft was April 23, exactly three months ago with weekend, yet only a handful of draft choices around the league are signed. It makes no sense.

Teams know how much money they can spend on rookies, and the agents know the same numbers. And it's the same song every year. Top picks on the day of the draft say they want to be in training camp on time, and then they say they'll leave the negotiations up to their agent.

Of course, first-round picks are going to hold out. The first practice for Browns rookies is Monday, and it looks like Braylon Edwards won't be here for the start.

Coach Romeo Crennel, when asked about how much Edwards is missing, will talk about coaching the players that are here. When Edwards gets in, he'll utter that profound observation, "It's a business," as though he's the first to realize it.

Substitute the name of any first-round pick and the name of any head coach and you hear the same song in just about every training camp in the NFL.

Clay Matthews used to say a contract could be negotiated in five minutes once both sides get serious. Both sides already have a pretty good idea about what the final contract will be, but they hem and haw and create animosity that needn't exist by prolonging negotiations. Fans get unhappy and usually blame the player for being greedy.

I'm not worried. Edwards' holdout probably won't last long. I'll be shocked if he is not signed before the second preseason game. But the point is it doesn't have to be this way.

…And another thing. I doubt very much Peter Boulware will be a Brown before full-squad workouts begin a week from today. The more time goes by, the more evident it becomes Boulware in his present condition is not a good fit as far as Browns general manager Phil Savage is concerned.

According to various reports, Boulware showed he could rush a quarterback in non-contact drills last week during a private workout for four teams in Tallahassee, but so far no one has offered him a contract. The fact only four teams bothered attending the work says something, because no team has an excess of pass rushers.

The Browns desperately need somebody to put pressure on the quarterbacks. They meet Carson Palmer of Cincinnati, Brett Favre of Green Bay and Peyton Manning of Indianapolis the first three weeks of the season.

Boulware has 67.5 career sacks, but if he can't do it anymore because of knee and toe injuries he is no good to anybody - at least not now.

The Browns might wait until mid-August, after the first two preseason games, to evaluate their own defensive players against opponents. There is no doubt they are thin on experience defensively. If an injury occurs to Kenard Lang or Matt Stewart they'll be on the phone to Boulware's agent before the night is done. Until then, Boulware will sit, at least as far as the Browns are concerned.

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