UPDATE: In a conference call Monday, the players union and agents agreed they would not ask prospects or agents to boycott the NFL Scouting Combine this month.
What's the next step in the negotiating process between owners and players over a new collective bargaining agreement? Would you believe a boycott of the NFL Scouting Combine this month in Indianapolis?
It's possible. Jason La Canfora of NFL.com, citing sources, reports that officials from the NFL Players Association will speak with player agents on a conference call to discuss the potential impact of a combine boycott. DeMaurice Smith, NFLPA executive director, will also discuss having prospects pass on any events leading up to the draft in April.
Although it's possible the two sides could meet again this week to resolve their differences regarding a new CBA, it's just as likely there could be some disruption over the draft if the current agreement expires March 3.
College prospects aren't members of the players association, but agents are. And although they would shudder at the thought of boycotting the combine, where their clients' draft stock could potentially rise (or fall), they probably realize the impact such an action would have.
But let's face it. A boycott is really an unlikely possibility. Although a rookie wage scale is being discussed as part of a new CBA, it wouldn't affect the majority of players entering their rookie season. Players want an opportunity to show their stuff in front of team executives and coaches. Skip the combine and they miss a golden opportunity to impress the very people who will be determining their futures.
It's a tough sell for DeMaurice Smith. While a boycott would show owners that the players association is willing to play hardball, he's going to face opposition from a number of agents. And agents are going to have to convince their clients that this is the right thing to do.
Frankly, we don't see that happening. The combine is too important to too many players for them to pass on it.