www.baltimoresun.com/sports/ravens/ravens-insider/bal-harbaugh-says-priority-should-be-prepping-rookies-when-considering-offseason-calendar-changes-20130522,0,846692.story

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Harbaugh says priority should be prepping rookies when considering offseason calendar changes

NFL is moving draft to May next year, mulling having combine prior to free agency

By Aaron Wilson

The Baltimore Sun

7:57 AM EDT, May 23, 2013

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The NFL plans to shift its annual draft into May next year because of a scheduling conflict at Radio City Music Hall, and the pending change could become a fixture in the offseason calendar.

Why? 

It's obvious that the league covets the television ratings and advertising dollars that would likely accompany becoming a part of the Nielsen ratings sweeps conducted in May.

Extra weeks of hype for the ultra-popular draft could generate money and positive branding for the league and its television programming on NFL Network.

The NFL is also considering other potential offseason changes, including possibly having the league year and free agency start in February with the NFL scouting combine moving into March.

If the draft starts later, it would probably compress the amount of time coaches have to indoctrinate rookies during the offseason because there would be less time between them being drafted and the start of training camp. NFL commissoner Roger Goodell owns the power to move the draft, but would need the approval of the NFL Players Association to sign off on a change to the start of the league year.

Count Ravens coach John Harbaugh among the many football people around the NFL who have serious concerns about the possible negative effect on rookies if the NFL tinkers with its traditional offseason routine.

“That’s a tough one to comment on," Harbaugh said. "I think our priority should be what’s best for the players – therefore what’s best for the sport. I would think it would be in everyone’s best interest to have those rookie players have an opportunity to be as prepared as they can be, to contribute – that’s what we are paying them for. That’s what I would like to think where our priorities would be as league.”

awilson@baltsun.com

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