NFL lockout to cost veteran players money?

NFL lockout to cost veteran players money?

Friday, April 8, 2011
Posted: 9:05 a.m.

By John Mullin

The impasse between NFL owners and players has for some time pointed toward the draft coming before some form of free agency. That unfortunately also points toward costing veterans money and giving teams a significant financial boost.

The enormous number of potential free agents, upwards of 450 by most counts, means a target-rich environment for teams. In a supply-demand economy, which the NFL is, that means more players options for teams; and when the supply of something is higher, prices typically are lower rather than higher.

Elite players will always command elite dollars. The price for a Julius Peppers will be high because there are not many Julius Peppers.

But add to that the situation where teams will have invested draft choices to address needs and you have decreased job opportunities for veteran free agents who in normal years would have been signed before teams turned to the draft.

Now, if a team has spent even a mid-round draft choice on a position, that organization is less likely to sign a veteran to a position already filled in its mind. If the Bears select a guard with a high pick, for example, they are all or part of the way out of at least the top end, i.e., pricier, market for guards.

And as if there werent enough already lining up in teams favor, fold in a less-expensive salary structure for rookies...

Austin sitting limits

The draft stock of defensive tackle Marvin Austin, particularly with the Bears, will be something to monitor. He was suspended and missed his entire senior season at North Carolina after being ruled permanently ineligible by the NCAA for dealings with an agent. By Austins description those involved two trips each to California and to Miami.

Those and the suspension that came with them hurt the 6-2, 310-pound with respect to draft status, given the presumed first-round grade on him through his junior season. Character questions may indeed plague Austin, who plays a position of need for the Bears but whether GM Jerry Angelo will invest a high pick on a character question after his Tank Johnson experience is problematic.

Beyond just the draft status, however, the back-channel buzz about Austin hurt him personally.

There were so many rumors about, I did this and was getting cars and a lot of things that werent true, things about me as a person and it was extremely hard, Austin said during the Combine. Its still hard to watch some of the stuff thats said about my character.

Ive never taken a drink in my life. Ive never smoked in my life. Ive done everything to get to this point, but one mistake, taking a couple of trips, and one of them was taken to help me get better as an athlete, has cost me may whole senior season and my image.

And I had to sit and listen to my little sister ask me, Marvin, I heard
you were drinking and all of this. So it was an extremely tough situation, but I got through it and Im a lot stronger for it and I think its going to make me a whole lot better professional.

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.

Bears Grades: Defense wears down under assault from Aaron Rodgers and Packers

Bears Grades: Defense wears down under assault from Aaron Rodgers and Packers

GREEN BAY, Wisc. — It was a bright spot, a small one on an otherwise dismal night of losing to the Green Bay Packers. But it was at least something.

After struggling for months to stay healthy and gain NFL weight, Leonard Floyd finally played like the ninth-overall pick of an NFL draft.

The rookie outside linebacker collected a sack in the first half, then exploded past Green Bay right tackle Brian Bulaga as part of stunt with fellow linebacker Willie Young on the third play of the second quarter for a second sack of Aaron Rodgers, one that came with a strip of the football and recovery in the end zone.

"We had a great play called,” Floyd said. “Willie came down and picked the guard for me and I looped around and the play was done and I made it. It felt great [to get a touchdown], but at the end of the day I wanted a win."

That was one of the very few bright spots as the Packers piled up 311 yards through three quarters, at times using wide receivers Randall Cobb and Ty Montgomery as running backs because of injuries. The drumbeat continued with touchdowns on three straight Green Bay possessions in the late third and early fourth quarters.

The defense has allowed 23 or more points in five of seven games this season, with the Packers rolling off consecutive touchdown drives of 85, 84 and 57 in the second half as the Bears were limited to 2:49 time of possession in the fourth quarter.

“It helps when you’re playing [defense], to actually have a little bit of a break,” head coach John Fox said. “Unfortunately in the second half, I think that probably caught up with us a little bit.”

The defense had its fullest complement of personnel yet this season, with outside linebackers Floyd and Pernell McPhee both active (McPhee for the first time this year following offseason knee surgery), in addition to starting cornerbacks Bryce Callahan and Tracy Porter, both of whom were injured during the Jacksonville game. It was not enough.

[BEARS GRADES: Quarterback woes take offense to new low in loss to Packers]

Defensive line: F

The interior of the line was quiet for most of the game, with wide receivers lining up as running backs averaged more than five yards per carry. Cornelius Washington had the only hit by a defensive lineman on Rodgers as the line rarely collapsed the pocket with center-push or even kept him in the pocket.

Linebacker: B-

Floyd started after two games inactive and a zero stat sheet vs. Detroit. He struggled too often getting disengaged from Green Bay left tackle David Bakhtiari at the outset before breaking through with second effort for his first career solo sack. That was topped by the strip-sack and recovery for a touchdown in the third quarter. Floyd had a third hit on Rodgers and a tackle for loss.

"It is very tough,” Floyd said. “He gets the ball out pretty quickly. You just have to keep rushing every snap. He is at his best when he is scrambling around playing backyard football."

McPhee was a welcome addition to a slumping defense, even in his limited capacity (19 snaps). McPhee was not credited with any tackles but was surprisingly fast off the ball initially, and got penetration to alter running lanes and some pressure on Rodgers, although he appeared to slow somewhat, not unexpected considering how limited he has been throughout the year because of the surgery.

Sam Acho provided some edge pressure with two hits on Rodgers and a pass deflected. Jerrell Freeman had a quarterback hit and delivered a game-high 13 tackles.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

Secondary: D

The secondary was forced to cover long into plays because of absent pressure on Rodgers but the coverage had its own problems with an offense that threw 56 times but was never intercepted. Three Green Bay receivers totaled double-digit receptions: Davante Adams (13), Cobb (11) and Montgomery (10).

Cre’Von LeBlanc started at corner as the Bears opened with six defensive backs, and delivered a goal-line stop in the first quarter, stuffing Montgomery, who was used as a running back because of injuries to the Green Bay backfield. LeBlanc finished with seven tackles and a hit blitzing Rodgers.

Porter matched up with Jordy Nelson and allowed the Green Bay wideout just one catch on four targets through three quarters. But breakdowns were deadly, allowing the Packers to stage their two longest scoring drives of the season in the second half. The second came when Porter and safety Harold Jones-Quartey both covered the same man in the end zone early in the fourth quarter, leaving Adams alone for his second TD catch of the game.

Adrian Amos interfered with Nelson to give the Packers a 44-yard penalty pickup in the first quarter. De’Vante Bausby had a number of solid plays despite a lack of meaningful pressure from the front. But Bausby had two holding penalties on the Packers’ second fourth-quarter scoring drive.

"There were a lot of penalties out there.,” Bausby said. “We had a good scheme and plan, but we just didn't finish in the second half as a group. Facing Rodgers is a challenge, but I felt like our play calling was excellent. We just didn't finish."

Special teams: B

Connor Barth converted from 39 yards to tie the game in the second quarter. It was Barth’s seventh in his last eight attempts. Pat O’Donnell turned in another strong night punting, averaging 43.8 net on five punts. Coverage helped keep three of those inside the 20.

Bears Talk Podcast: What's next for Bears at QB after Brian Hoyer suffers broken arm?


Bears Talk Podcast: What's next for Bears at QB after Brian Hoyer suffers broken arm?

Lance Briggs, Alex Brown and Jim Miller break down where the Bears go at QB following Brian Hoyer’s injury and evaluate the defense’s gutsy performance on Thursday night against the Packers despite numerous injuries. Plus, a look at the big picture and who can help the Bears down the road.

Check out the latest edition of the Bears Talk Podcast here: