For NFL players, the offseason is usually pretty routine. Players take part in the offseason conditioning program, go to organized team activities, attend minicamps and enjoy time off in between. In the month leading up to training camp, players are usually off on their own working out and resting up before football will consume their life for the next six to seven months.
This year the offseason has been very, very different. With the NFL lockout being in effect since March, players have spent almost all of the offseason on their own. There have been no OTAs, no minicamps and for guys like Drew Stanton, who is a free agent, no contract talks. This has resulted in a "unique" offseason, as Stanton called it in his most recent blog post, which described what he has been up to this offseason and also addressed his free agent status.
Still, daily I find myself on Pro Football Talk looking for answers on our current labor issue. I am more directly affected than others, because when we do get back to work, I could be a restricted free agent or an unrestricted free agent. What does that mean when the dust settles? Your guess is as good as mine, because I have no clue. This has been a great off-season, but enough is enough. We need time off, and before it was too short after a grueling season. Somewhere there is a happy medium of down time and hopefully we can find it through all of us. No matter what issues are being discussed behind closed doors, one thing must stay in the front of everyone's mind in that room. Our fans are our life blood and we owe it to them to get something resolved immediately.
When this situation is resolved, chances are Stanton will become an unrestricted free agent since he has been in the league four years. What that means is that Stanton will have to decide if he wants to return to the Lions and compete for the backup job or sign with a team where he might have a better shot at getting on the field. A lot of players are in the same boat, so it will be interesting to see how everything plays out once a new CBA is in place and free agency opens.