While scientists and politicians are busy hypothesizing about global warming and its effects, John Idzik has his set of concerns about a change of climate for the Seattle Seahawks.
The Seahawks vice president of administration, chief negotiator and salary cap aficionado has four more draft choices to sign before training camp begins on July 25, along with helping keep camp running smoothly in the middle of the team's move from the headquarters in Kirkland into the dazzling new Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton by the middle of August.
Meanwhile, Idzik is back from a brief break, now glued to the phone and his computer to remain apprised of everything coming and going.
"This is the time of year when you get back into the grind again," said Idzik, beginning his second season with the Seahawks. "While everybody is getting their last gasp of vacation in, we're working on signing the remaining draftees, and tying up loose ends with some other guys. This year is a little different in that with the 80-man roster and without NFL Europe exemptions, we also have to make roster moves when we sign a draftee. So there's a little bit more activity that way personnel-wise."
That's not to mention the NFL's announcement of plans to abandon the extension of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which will in effect eliminate the salary cap after the 2009 season. Whether a new CBA agreement is hashed out by then will have a huge impact on the way teams do business, and what contracts will look like going forward.
Not that this is anything foreign to him. The magna cum laude Dartmouth grad has been in the game virtually his entire life. His father John was a career NFL assistant coach - along with a stint as head coach at the University of Buffalo. Idzik has been in football operations since 1993, beginning with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for 11 seasons along with Seahawks president Tim Ruskell and vice president of player personnel Ruston Webster. Idzik went to the Arizona from 2004-06 to be senior director of football operations before reuniting with Webster and Ruskell in February of 2007 with the Seahawks.
To put it mildly, there are a variety of contingency plans on Idzik's desktop and buzzing through his head for the days ahead.
"I've been doing this for 15 years, and it's continued to change," Idzik said. "There have always been little tricks that can be played (by agents) that can be harmful to your salary cap in the big picture to your organization. There have always been different periods within the CBA amendments and extensions that brought on new rules - or accentuated existing rules. When we got toward the end of the previous CBA, there were uncapped years. They created rules that were never a factor before.
"With the shortening of the CBA, we have to play a lot of 'what if' games to be prepared for 2010, and I'm dealing with what I have on the plate today (with regard to rookies and veteran extensions). We know the CBA has been shortened and we have to deal with that time frame. But then if it does get extended again, we have to plan for that too. So there are a lot of contingency plans. What has not changed is we're always focused on three years – what does this year look like and two years hence. The difference is two years from now there's no way of knowing what that's going to look like financially without knowing if we have an operative governing document like we had before."
So with just a couple weeks left until rookies are schedule to report on July 22, Justin Forsett, Brandon Coutu and Tyler Schmitt are signed. Lawrence Jackson, John Carlson, Red Bryant and Owen Schmitt are not. Idzik said he expects to have them finished by reporting day, but also must remove four other players off the 80-man roster.
Meanwhile, there is the move from Kirkland to Renton.
"That's actually the hum in the background for me," Idzik said. "We have a couple of goals in mind. First of all, the move is a real asset to the entire organization. We were just over there (Wednesday) and it's remarkable. It has exceeded everyone's expectations. And you know, a lot of times, there is just the opposite reaction when something like this comes to fruition.
"In this case, there's a lot of coordination of movement in departments so the flow isn't interrupted at the most critical time of the year for the football team. We've got the maximize-sized roster, we're going through critical evaluations at this time and you don't want anything to disrupt that. There are folks in football operations, much like during training camp when there are fires in the background that you put out, working on the move so there is no disruption to the team."
In many respects, once the business operations move to VMAC in just a couple of weeks, Idzik compares the team having the Kirkland building with nobody else there to being in Cheney. And once the team breaks camp and moves down I-405, it will be as if they're coming home.
"If we can pull that off, I think we'll have a very smooth camp and an easy transition to Renton," Idzik said. "You go into a new building and there are always nuances you have to learn and some kinks you have to iron out, but I think everyone on the football side will be blown away. Yes, there is some work involved, but we're just keeping it to ourselves in the background, so nobody else is thinking about it and when the move takes place everybody will be better off in the end."
In other words, yes, there is plenty of work to be done before, during and after training camp as the speed with which the 2008 NFL season is coming tantamount to a runaway freight train.
"The excitement comes in waves for me," Idzik said. "My seasons kind of overlap, and at this time of the year my goal is obviously to get everyone into camp healthy and ready to go. There's nothing like the first day of training camp when all the guys are back, everybody is on the field again with the pads on ready to go. So yeah, there's a lot of anticipation right now over the next couple of weeks. My job is to keep things running as smoothly as possible so when the season begins, we can hit the ground running."