Top 5 from the NFL's annual meeting

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton. (REUTERS/Jeff Haynes)

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton. (REUTERS/Jeff Haynes)

John Kryk, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:20 PM ET

PALM BEACH, Fla. — Maybe it's fitting that with big news breaking at a break-neck pace this off-season, the NFL is convening at The Breakers.

This posh, ocean-side resort is host to the league's annual meeting from Monday to Wednesday.

Owners, GMs and coaches from all 32 teams have gathered, ostensibly to tend to perfunctory league business. But they'll also comment on, dump accelerants on, or frantically try to extinguish a few raging fires.

It has been anything but quiet in the NFL in the six weeks since the Super Bowl. From Peyton watching to the Payton scotching; Bounty-gate to Tebow's fate; mega-trade to mega-signings; and all those Luck and Griffin pinings.

Although predicting big news this off-season is about as trustworthy as Lindsay Lohan at a pay-what-you-can jewelry store, here is what we think shape up as the five biggest storylines — under the glorious heat, humidity and sunshine of South Florida:

1. REACTION TO BOUNTY-GATE:

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton doesn't begin serving his one-year suspension until April 1. Reports say he will be here, representing the Saints.

Payton serves on the seven-man coaches subcommittee, so he has an additional purpose for coming. If so he'll have to meet the press, as all NFC head coaches do breakfast with reporters on Wednesday.

Saints GM Mickey Loomis similarly will be grilled. And commissioner Roger Goodell addresses reporters early Monday afternoon.

2. COWBOYS AND REDSKINS vs THE LEAGUE:

If you missed it last week, the NFL penalized both the Cowboys and Redskins for egregiously overspending in 2010, the "uncapped" year before the lockout.

Overspending above exactly what is the crux, because there wasn't any team salary cap in 2010. The league, though, said the teams "created an unacceptable risk to future competitive balance," even if its own management council had approved every player contract.

The NFL docked the Redskins $36 million and the Cowboys $10 million against the cap over the next two years. Harsh, considering the 2012 cap is $120.6 million.

“[T]here is no joy in Mudville, having to team up with the Redskins on a point with the league,” Jones told the Dallas Morning News. “It just shows you ... some of the issues we have with this cap-space issue.”

On Sunday, Dallas and Washington filed a complaint against both the league and players association. By including the NFLPA, an independent arbiter will decide the case rather than commissioner Goodell, ProFootballTalk.com reported.

John Mara, an owner of the Giants who holds considerable power within the NFL as chairman of the management council executive committee, told ESPN that the 'boys and 'skins are fortunate they also didn't lose draft picks.

Wouldn't ya love to be in that owners meeting when the issue is raised?

3. NEW PLAYING RULES:

Seven are up for approval. The most impactful:

• Having a replay official in a booth upstairs decide reviews, rather than the on-field referee. The intent is to reduce delays. The proposal to limit such reviews to 60 seconds, however, seems completely unrealistic. The idea should be to get the call right, otherwise mistakes will be made. Such a system exists in U.S. college football, and press-box replay officials often screw it up even after five minutes of mulling.

• Making it mandatory to review most turnovers, in addition to all scoring plays.

• Making it illegal to horsecollar-tackle the quarterback in the pocket.

• Bringing regular-season overtime in line with the new playoff format. That is, if the first team with the ball fails to score, or scores only a field goal, the other team gets at least once chance with the ball.

• Blowing a play dead before it starts if the defence has too many men on the field. That's to stop a team with a small lead from deliberately committing the foul late in a game, so as to run precious time off the clock — as the Giants did in the last minute of the Super Bowl.

4. COACHES ON THE SPOT:

On Tuesday morning, every head coach in the AFC has breakfast with the media. On Wednesday it's the NFC head coaches' turn.

We'll get to ask Rex Ryan about Tebow, Jim Harbaugh about his man Alex Smith, Jeff Fisher about his defence, Mike Shanahan about his Luck/RG3 tour last week...

5. OTHER CHANGES:

Among new by-laws proposed is moving the trade deadline forward by two weeks, to the Tuesday after the eighth weekend — which this season is Oct. 30.

There's also a proposal that, if passed, probably will become known as the Peyton Manning rule. It would allow clubs to return to the active list one player placed on the reserve/injured list after the first game. The Colts last season never placed Peyton Manning on the latter, so he could play if eventually able. He wasn't, and the Colts burned a roster spot for the whole season.

We'll be all over this stuff — like a Saints tackler on an already-downed quarterback.

john.kryk@sunmedia.ca

@JohnKryk

blogs.canoe.ca/KrykSlants

 


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