NFL.com's Jason La Canfora, citing several sources close to the situation, is reporting that NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith has been busy meeting with several prominent agents about the possibility of boycotting NFL events over the next couple of months. The two main events involved? The NFL Scouting Combine and the 2011 NFL Draft.
The Combine is set to begin in just under three weeks, on February 23. La Canfora reports that sources tell him that the likelihood of agents keeping high-profile draft prospects out of that event are much smaller than the draft itself, as it would ultimately hurt the players more than it'd hurt the league. As for the draft, top agents would encourage players to stay away from Radio City Music Hall on April 28, or to make appearances in any fashion during draft weekend.
When you get right down to it, this type of threat is really just a negotiation tactic. Obviously. Not having faces on TV - particularly the league's own network - on draft weekend wouldn't kill ratings, but might kill a little buzz. Teams not marching their top draft picks out onto a podium would hurt, as well. Smith's message is clear: players make the league, not vice versa.
Time will tell if Smith, the NFLPA and the agents follow through on this idea. This will be just the first of many chess moves made in the coming weeks and months as the two sides look to agree to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.