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Marla Ridenour on Sports

NFL: What a week this could be

By Marla Published: April 26, 2011

Browns players Joshua Cribbs, Ben Watson and Reggie Hodges were unable to work out or speak to the coaching staff when they reported to the headquarters in Berea this morning, just the first bizarre day in what could be the most history-making week in league history.

While the NFL seeks a stay after Judge Susan Nelson's ruling lifted the lockout Monday, league spokesman Greg Aiello told the NFL Network's Jason LaCanfora, "We need a few days to sort this out.''

It seemed like a stalling tactic, especially with the prospect of starting free agency this week along with the NFL Draft, which runs Thursday through Saturday. Is the NFL side really reeling from another loss in the courts?

There won't be much sympathy from the public or the players since teams have had two months since the combine to get their houses in order. One would think strategies for the draft and free agency should be set. One would think they've identified the undrafted free agents they'd like to sign.

While I expected chaos when free agency finally began, perhaps not to the extent it might reach if it's going on during the draft. If it is, I would think the Browns would be better equipped than some to handle it.

President Mike Holmgren has been a general manager before. He might have to step out of the draft room and man the free agency phones, which might not be what Holmgren would prefer. I could see Holmgren and his assistant Gil Haskell handling free agency, along with director of player personnel Jon Sandusky. General manager Tom Heckert and coach Pat Shurmur could handle the draft, along with director of college scouting John Spytek.

The Browns' player personnel department has 17 staff members, which includes seven college area scouts. It might require all hands on deck and some in roles with which they're not totally familiar. It would be the true test of Holmgren's rebuilt organization.

But it would also give the Browns an edge in the rush for talent. The Cincinnati Bengals' staff directory lists seven in the player personnel department, including three scouts and an assistant. That doesn't include the members of owner Mike Brown's family listed on the administrative side. Bare-bones organizations like the Bengals have the most to lose in a free for all if NFL doors open this week and league business begins.

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