America breathed a big sigh of relief over the weekend as NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, and head of the NFLPA, DeMaurice Smith, announced the end of the NFL Lockout. The league began a condensed version of the offseason yesterday as teams were allowed to agree to terms with rookies and undrafted free-agents and can start signing them on Friday. We've already seen a flurry of undrafted players such as Noel Devine (allegedly; I'll get to that), Sydney Glover, and Anthony Leonard sign with teams. We could see Jock Sanders and Scooter Berry get signed today or within the next few days. We can also see NFL veteran Mountaineers such as Marc Bulger and Steve Slaton move to new teams by the end of the week.
Last week, we gave you a preview of some of the undrafted Mountaineers and where they might end up. Now we will be able to see if our predictions were accurate. Whether we're right or wrong, as Mountaineer fans, we should all be thrilled by the prospect of seeing guys who have played in Morgantown over the past few years wearing new uniforms with NFL logos on them. I personally can't wait for the first time Noel Devine gets the ball in open space against guys bigger and faster than anyone he faced while playing in college. Ditto for Jock Sanders.
When reports surfaced on Sunday that the players and owner had reached an agreement to end the Lockout, I sent out a few messages to former Mountaineers asking for their takes on the new collective bargaining agreement and the upcoming season. I'll give you their thoughts.
First, here's a rundown of the player news that has come across the wire:
- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution released an article that Noel Devine had signed with the Atlanta Falcons last night and my Twitter timeline was taken over with that news. How many people actually read that article? Many Mountaineer websites are running reports stating that Devine will be a Falcon. I'm here to cast some doubt on those reports. The opening line of the column from the AJC reads:
West Virginia running back, Noel Devine, will reportedly sign with the Atlanta Falcons at 10 a.m. on Tuesday
The eighth word in that sentence is "reportedly" The author of the article didn't reveal who his sources were for that information. Flash forward to this morning where former Mountaineer quarterback, Jarrett Brown, posted on Twitter that he had spoken to Devine and he told Brown that he "hadn't signed with ATL. Don't jump the gun.' That was around 11:30. An hour and a half after the time the AJC said Devine would sign with the Falcons. Also this morning, the Falcons announced that they had signed another UDFA RB, Philip Sylvester, from FAMU. I'm not saying that Devine will not be a Falcon, just don't accept that as gospel until we either hear it from him or the Falcons. The word is that he his listening to other offers.
- Sidney Glover signed with the Buffalo Bills, joining another former Mountaineer, Corey McIntyre, on the roster.
- Anthony Leonard announced on Twitter that he will sign with the New England Patriots.
Scooter Berry, another UDFA, told me what he thought about the Lockout ending and what he hopes for in the coming days. He told me that he has "alot of mixed emotions going on inside of me. A little bit of anxiety because anything can happen over the next few days; but I am happy that the Lockout is over. I want to get back to football. A lot of us have been in limbo since the Draft and could not be more excited with the owners and players agreeing to the new CBA."
Another Arizona Cardinal free agent, Keilen Dykes, told me that he likes the new CBA. "I like that they got rid of the two-a-days and there's less hitting throughout the week," he told me over the phone. "I like that they looked out for the safety of the players this time. You know all of that money that they talked about has to do with the (Tom) Brady's and (Peyton) Manning's of the world. I'll get paid what I would've gotten paid anyway."
Dykes is a free-agent, and he told me he'd like to remain with the Cardinals. While he sat out last year with a triceps injury, he told me that before the Lockout he had received interest from the Denver Broncos, San Diego Chargers, and Cleveland Browns. "I haven't heard from anyone yet," he told me. "Probably won't hear anything until Thursday or Friday. You'll hear more about high-priority free-agents like Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards before teams get to me."
Keep checking back here for more updates on Mountaineer player movement. There are still some other undrafted free-agents out there yet to be signed and veterans who could change teams in the next week such as Steve Slaton and Marc Bulger.
NFL training camps will open up this weekend and preseason games will begin in two weeks. WVU will begin fall practices in the next couple of weeks as well. Football is back. I'm excited. Are you? Keilen Dykes is certainly excited.
"You can feel it in the air, smell it in the air. It's here," he said.
Updated 3:48 p.m.- I just received word that Jock Sanders will sign with the Tampa Bay Bucs.
Updated 6:30 p.m.- Jarrett Brown just Tweeted that Devine is going to Philly. This would potentially be a great move for Devine. Philadelphia isn't deep behind LeSean McCoy, and Devine could be a threat on 3rd downs.