Trotter: NFL won't expand season to 18 games

Trotter: NFL won't expand season to 18 games

Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Posted: 6:57 p.m. Updated: 7:37 p.m.

By John Mullin

Good friend Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated got a moment with NFLPA President Demaurice Smith late Wednesday and it does look like there wont be an 18-game NFL season anytime soon (http:tinyurl.com4j9cc7d).

That means rosters and schedules and myriad other details wont have to be adjusted, at least at this point.

Indeed, nothing is done til its done and hard information has been difficult to come by with the NFL and NFLPA adhering surprisingly well to their vow of silence over the past couple weeks. But indications are that some progress is being made, although substantive issues are still a long way from resolved, and those may be deal-killers.

National Football Posts Andrew Brandt does a great job of laying out the proposals for capping rookie salaries, fittingly titled The Rookie Sacrifice (http:tinyurl.com4d78mv3). Its something which both sides and most of the football public agree have spiraled out of control vs. the success rate of high draft choices, for instance.

Andrew, who negotiated contracts while a member of the Green Bay Packers front office, offers a compromise package of his own which includes splitting the mandatory contract lengths for the 32 first-round picks. Not sure how this will play with players agents, but right now they are the only ones really pushing hard for the yet-to-be players.

These ideas havent been finalized by any means. But getting a look at some of the proposals on the table, literally, as well as the kind of compromise that could effect some movement, is revealing.

Revealing is the problem, however. The players remain insistent that the owners open their books to wider scrutiny as a way to buttress claims that their profits need the 1 billion kick-in they are demanding that the players make. And the owners, whether for competitive reasons among themselves or whatever, dont see that issue as discussable.

The way out of that stalemate, as Ive alluded to previously, may be the independent verifier mechanism that the league has had for checking validity of contract claims in free agency. An independent auditor has been selected by the players to review books in confidence but whether that works for the owners still is unresolved.

Thursday and Friday are expected to be heavy negotiation days, with another extension not out of the realm of possibility. At least theyre still talking.

John "Moon" Mullin is's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Will Cam Meredith return to the Bears?


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Hub Arkush (Pro Football Weekly/670 The Score), Mark Grote (670 The Score) and Mark Carman (WGN Radio) join Luke Stuckmeyer on the panel. Quenton Nelson works out at Notre Dame’s pro day. If he’s still on the board at 8, should the Bears take him? Plus the panel talks about the Cubs outfield heading into 2018 and if it’s time to shut down both Jonathan Toews and Lauri Markkanen.

Could Quenton Nelson increase his value by playing tackle?

USA Today

Could Quenton Nelson increase his value by playing tackle?

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Quenton Nelson hasn’t met with the Bears yet during this pre-draft process, and doesn’t have a local visit scheduled with them. But maybe that’s not too surprising.

Harry Hiestand has better intel on him than anyone else after coaching him for the past four years at Notre Dame, after all. 

“Coach Hiestand, he’s known me since I was an immature freshman that wasn’t good at football, until now being a lot more mature and responsible and doing the right thing and a good football player,” Nelson said. “He knows everything about me.”

Could part of that intel provided by Hiestand be that Nelson has the ability to eventually play tackle?

Nelson might be the closest to a “sure thing” prospect in this year’s draft, with his reams of dominant film and off-the-charts work ethic projecting him as an All-Pro for years to come. But that he plays guard is a stumbling block, given interior positions generally don’t hold as much value as tackles in the NFL.

So here’s a potential scenario for the Bears: They draft Nelson at No. 8 — which is still "high" for a guard — and plug him at left guard in 2018. They then, under the careful watch of Hiestand, slide him to tackle in 2019. 

“I’m pretty convinced that Q could do whatever he sets his mind to,” Mike McGlinchey, a first-round tackle in his own right who's Nelson’s ex-Irish teammate and workout buddy, said. “If that’s what teams want him to play, I’m sure he’ll take that head on and perform to the best of his ability.” 

Nelson, to his credit, is confident he could make the switch to tackle (he was recruited by Hiestand as a tackle, and began his college career backing up Zack Martin at tackle). He said the only team that’s asked him about it so far is the Cincinnati Bengals, though it’s unlikely he’ll still be on the board when they pick at No. 21. 

But maybe the thought of guards being significantly less valuable than tackles is slowly becoming antiquated in today’s NFL. Four of the top 10 highest paid offensive linemen, by total contract value, are interior linemen. Three of the top 10 offensive linemen with the most guaranteed money are guards, led by Andrew Norwell, who inked a five-year, $66.5 million deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars earlier this month with $30 million guaranteed at signing. Only one offensive lineman — Nate Solder, who just signed with the New York Giants — is guaranteed more money. 

Following the money, if teams are willing to splash down loads of cash for the best guards in the league, a team may be willing to spend a top-10 pick on a guard who could immediately be among the best at his position in the NFL. Or the calculation for whatever team drafts him may be this: Would you rather have him as a perennial All-Pro guard or "merely" a solid-to-good tackle? 

Regardless of where he ends up playing, though, Nelson is one of those supremely-talented players who takes the right approach to his craft — in other words, one of those guys you just want to get in your building. And while Nelson said he’d love to play for his hometown New York Giants — who could be interested in him with the No. 2 pick — he said getting to link back up with Hiestand would be an incredible opportunity, too. 

“That would be amazing to play for him,” Nelson said. “He’s the one that made me into the player I am today. I wouldn’t be here without him or be in any conversations in the draft without him, so it would mean a lot to play for him again.”