Draft done, NFL assistants starting to worry about labor deal

NFL coaches are starting to become concerned about the labor dispute.

A week after the draft concluded, they’re suddenly out of things to do. Coaches had been able to immerse themselves in the draft over the past few weeks, paying even more attention to it than they have in the past. They’ve had extra time to review their personnel from 2010. They’ve had far more time than usual to scout potential free agents.

Now, most clubs would be about halfway through their (voluntary) offseason workout programs and the coaches would have an eye on their summer vacations. There is little to do at team facilities right now.

NFL clubs close their workout programs in June with most finishing up at the end of the second or third week of the month. Coaches are then pretty much set free until shortly before training camp opens, giving them almost a month to unwind following an 11-month grind. Much has been made about some organizations slashing the pay of assistant coaches during the lockout. They’re concerned about more than that.

“They’re going to screw my vacation up,” one veteran assistant coach said Friday night, referring to the labor battle between owners and players.

Coaches are creatures of habit and routine. How the labor situation plays out and when the new league year begins is anyone’s best guess. It is possible free agency could kick off at the beginning of July. In that case, the assistant coaches who have worked all year would be in the office working. The same thing goes for front offices and support staff personnel, other employees who are snagged in the fight that is now being waged in the courts.

While the issue of pay cuts is not insignificant, most of the clubs have provisions for the assistants to get lost money back provided no games are lost. Of course, there’s no guarantee a full season will be played. There’s no guarantee any season will be played.

As the owners and players plot their next move, just know more is hanging in the balance.

Follow me on Twitter: @BradBiggs

Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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