In January, Bill Polian indicated that the Colts had developed strategies to address each of four possible outcomes pending the CBA negotiations. The previous three posts explored what the Colts’ team-building strategy might look like should a CBA agreement be reached before, shortly (2-4 months), or long (5+ months) after the deadline. This post looks at the final possibility – that the NFL and NFLPA agree to operate under some undefined “set of rules.” Given that the deadline to reach a new agreement has been extended until tonight at midnight, this scenario could still play out like any of the other three, depending on what rules were agreed and when.

The “set of rules” could be the same as applied in 2010, or — depending on when these rules are agreed — they could dictate that there will be a shortened free agency period post-draft, or no free agency. If the rules are truly undefined, the strategy is likely to be to make only the roster moves about which the Colts feel absolutely certain (which it appears they have already done – franchise-tagged QB Peyton Manning, released now-Chargers S Bob Sanders, and tendered RB Joseph Addai and SS Melvin Bullitt). Then they wait – if it becomes clear that rules won’t be set prior to the draft, then they would implement their draft-then-free-agency strategy. Would-be free agents can’t go anywhere, and the team has likely done their analysis to be ready once the rules are defined.

I suppose what’s most interesting is the fact that Polian claims there is a strategy for what he himself identifies as “undefined.” It makes me wonder whether he inadvertently revealed something about the owners’ strategy in terms of proposing certain rules to proceed with the 2011 season if a CBA cannot be negotiated.