Lockout makes post-draft protocol tricky

Under normal circumstances, players taken in the NFL Draft get to talk to their coaches, discuss an offseason workout program, and get an early look at the playbook immediately after being selected.

Unfortunately for both the soon-to-be NFL rookies and their future teams, we're not currently operating under normal circumstances.

Far from it.

The NFL lockout - which has been in effect for nearly the last two weeks - doesn't only affect current players; it also affects those who hope to be selected in the draft in late-April.

While the draft is one of the only NFL offseason events which will go on as scheduled during the lockout, things will get a little tricky as soon as players hear their names called during the three days at Radio City Music Hall.

Because there are strict rules prohibiting NFL team staffers from having any contact with their players during the lockout, teams will not be able to have the standard post-draft discussions with the newest members of their organization.

No playbooks will be allowed to be handed out, no schemes can be talked, and there will be no post-draft feeling out process between the players and their coaches. The players will be allowed to attend a press conference in their new city, but that's it.

"They are not allowed any contact, including sending them information," commissioner Roger Goodell said from the owners' meetings this week. "As draft prospects, I believe they can have contact with them. Once they are drafted, they can no longer have contact with them."

Whenever a new collective bargaining agreement is eventually reached, these rookies will come in with zero direct knowledge of the system their team will run, or how they'll be used.

On top of that, teams cannot negotiate contracts with their new drafted players. When the lockout is lifted, that will be another obstacle which must be dealt with.

Oh, and one more thing - teams will not be able to sign, or even talk to, undrafted free agents. No deals can be worked out with players who weren't taken in the draft, and handshake deals or under the table contracts will not be allowed, either.

"There are no team transactions, even unofficial," Goodell said. "Especially unofficial."

With the lockout in full swing, teams are putting the vast majority of their focus on the draft. Once the three-day event is over, however, organizations will have no contact with their new players, and will have to wait for a new CBA just like the rest of us.

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