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Mailbag: Should NFL Draft be before free agency?


Do you like the way that free agency and the draft are scheduled right now, or would you prefer to see how the draft shakes out before you make decisions on signing your free agents? It seems like it would make more sense to have the draft first, like in other sports. Thanks. – Marcus Whitt/Mullens, WV

Nick Eatman: I won't lie, there are times when I've wished for this scenario. It seems as if teams try to sign players as band-aids to a position in hopes they'll get something better in the draft. But I know this, if they did switch it, there will be plenty of times when you'd want it back the other way as well. I personally, think if the draft was first, you'd end up reaching a lot more for positions that are unsettled. Most teams, including the Cowboys, really believe that "Best Player Available" is the way to go because you get more value. But it wouldn't happen as much if the draft was first because you would definitely try to fill your needs. Also, you might see more veteran players squeezed out of the league earlier because there wouldn't be a need to sign them all after the draft. I don't think it's a bad idea. If they changed it, it would take some adjusting. But I don't see that happening.

Patrik: I couldn't possibly love this idea more, and for the reason you pointed out. As it stands, the NFL tasks teams with filling their needs in free agency and then drafting players, but the drafted players are often to replace — be it now or later — a player that was signed in free agency. An example would be signing a veteran linebacker to a one-year deal, only to then draft one with a premium pick and then release the veteran in the middle of training camp. If you place the draft first, teams would then need to be challenged more greatly to absolutely nail their picks and, as a side effect of swapping the calendar, many veterans who aren't at the top of the market will stand a greater chance of being retained on the roster they joined (because the team signing them would still truly have a need). Just my humble opinion but, yes, I'd be a go for this … though it'll probably never, ever happen in the NFL.

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