Nate Burleson projects big things for his team next season. But ask him if they'll even play, and the answer acts as an oxymoron.
Detroit's veteran receiver expects the league to enter a lockout on March 3, when the league's collective bargaining agreement with the players union expires.
"Yes, there will be a lockout," Burleson said. "Time will tell how long. I think there will be a lockout and it'll be interesting to see how guys train and where they train at. There are a lot of things up in the air right now."
Burleson's words, if prophetic, would be a cruel twist of fate and blow to the Lions organization and team. A four-game win streak, various other successes in 2010, and a solid returning core have Detroit forecasted as a playoff contender in 2011 -- a feat devoid of reach since 1999. An extensive lockout would slow, if not derail those efforts and momentum.
Like his fellow cohorts, Burleson has his reasons, too. The two sides haven't met since the fall, with each accusing the other of diverting the negotiation process. According to a USA Today report, there is also no plans to revisit the stalled talks.
Burleson's teammate, left tackle Jeff Backus, voiced his concern.
"I want to play football next year," Backus said. "I am at the tail end of my career. I don't want to miss a football season. We need to make sure we do what's best for the players but at the end of the day, I want to play football."