Schedule proving perplexing for NFL

The NFL usually announces the upcoming schedule by now, but there have been many inquiries and few answers about what the holdup is this year. League officials say it's coming soon but that those in charge of it are still working on the details.

There are certain things most of us take for granted until we need one. A plunger comes immediately to mind – when you want it, you want it to work. The same is true with TV Guide. Printed more than a week before the TV shows it synopsizes come on the air, rare is the occasion when somebody leafs through TV Guide and gets misinformation.

Tuesday night was one of those nights. While ESPN was welcoming back its news magazine program "E:60" and their critically acclaimed documentary series "30 for 30," ESPN2 was scheduled to carry what it called a "Sportscenter Special Edition." What about Tuesday was supposed to be special? Upon further examination, it was explained that the special was to announce and analyze the 2010 schedule.

The NFL clearly intended to release its schedule in prime time Tuesday, which typically has meant that we would have learned the teams playing in the prime-time games for opening weekend and selected Monday night games on Monday. Neither happened. It has become a timing question, since the tease for the schedule was expected two weeks ago. In most seasons, the following year's schedule is announced in early April – typically two weeks before the draft. With just eight days left until the draft, still no word has come from the league.

So what's the holdup? Somewhere Val Pinchbeck, who singlehandedly created the NFL schedule for more than 30 years before dying outside the league's New York office a few years ago when hit by a passing car, is shedding a tear. The league has usually used the schedule release to start building offseason fan interest leading into the draft. It would seem that opportunity has been wasted and, to date, nobody has provided an explanation.


  • Business in the NFL can be strange at times. Let the Brandon Marshall news from Tuesday serve as an example. The Broncos didn't want to lose Marshall, who was a restricted free agent and was tendered with a first-round compensation tag. It should be noted that they didn't attach the top tender – which would require a first- and third-round pick as compensation – to keep him. Until he signed his tender, if anyone wanted to trade with Denver, they would have to offer a first-round pick in return. Marshall signed his tender Tuesday, which takes away the requirement of first-round compensation. Why did he sign? So he can leave. Look for Denver to trade Marshall for a second-round pick within the next few days, with rumors of a Miami destination getting heated Tuesday night.

  • The Bears would love to reunite Marshall and Jay Cutler, but, barring a big move, it won't happen. Chicago is without its first-round pick from the Cutler trade last year and doesn't have a second-rounder either – that was traded to Tampa Bay for Gaines Adams, who died in the offseason.

  • Amid speculation that the Bengals might once again try to put an offer sheet together to get fullback Naufahu Tahi, that ended Tuesday when Tahi signed his tendered offer for the 2010 season to stay with the Vikings.

  • With Tahi's signing, the only unsigned restricted free agents are defensive end Ray Edwards and quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. They have less than 48 hours to receive an offer sheet from another team.

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