Adam Weber said his bags have been packed for a while now. Maybe not literally, but the former Gophers quarterback is anxious to see what his future holds once the NFL lockout ends and football returns.
Weber has lived in a state of limbo since not being selected in the NFL draft this spring. Ordinarily, teams sign undrafted free agents in the first few hours after the draft. However, they were prohibited from doing that (or even contacting undrafted players or their agents) under the lockout. Typically, around 400 undrafted players sign free agent contracts after the draft.
Weber figures to get invited to a training camp, but he said he realizes nothing is certain and the odds are stacked because of the lost offseason and chance to make an impression.
"Who knows what's going to happen," Weber said Thursday. "But I can foresee that teams -- because the season is coming up so quick -- they're not going to have a lot of time to develop new players especially the quarterback position. You're going to have to be able to come in there right away and be able to run the offense and not have any setbacks. Especially being a free agent, I'm not going to get many reps. Those are going to go to the guys that got drafted. I know it's going to be a struggle. But I'm trying to work as hard as I can so that when I do get an opportunity that I can go out there and execute a play and give the coaches a reason to keep me on the team."
Weber visited the Jacksonville Jaguars before the draft, but he said it's hard to know which teams might be interested in signing him once the lockout ends.
"It's hard to gauge, especially now because all the free agents are in a gigantic pool," he said. "It's going to be interesting to see where teams go especially if the lockout doesn't get settled this week or next week. The closer you get to the season I think the less chance they're going to take on an unproven rookie free agent. ... People ask me where I want to go. I do not care. Any city, any place. I just want an opportunity."
Weber is working out daily with a group of NFL and college players led by All-Pro wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald at the Gophers football complex. Weber said he's handled the uncertainty of his situation by enjoying his summer break for the first time in a long time.
"Things I haven't been able to do here in college," he said. "It's nice to have some free time. I don't have to go to school anymore so I'm able to recover [physically] and relax and keep myself sane."
Weber sought advice recently from veteran NFL quarterback Matt Hasselbeck about how to handle things once the lockout ends. Hasselbeck told him to study his playbook intensely so that he knows the system even if he's not getting many reps in practice.
"You have to be a guy who can be an asset to his team any way, shape or form," Weber said. "When you do get a rep or get a chance to answer a question in the meeting room you can say it with a 100 percent certainty or execute the play. At this next level, especially guys who are drafted or undrafted, you have to prove that you can play out there and that you should be out there. That's the approach that I'm taking."
One factor Weber believes can work in his favor is the fact he had four offensive coordinators in college, meaning he had to learn different systems each offseason.
"I look at it as a huge advantage," he said. "Learning a new offense can be very complex and can be very difficult, but being through that -- that I've done it four times -- you learn what to pick up, how to read it, little secrets here and there. But then again I've never done a professional offense. But I think regardless of how many times I've had to do it in college, I think doing it at the next level is going to be difficult."
Weber hopes to get that chance in the next few weeks once the lockout ends. For now, he's just trying to remain patient.
"It's funny, for the past probably month and a half, I've heard it's about a week away," he said. "So with that mindset, it's been tough. I know I've had some nice time off, but I've also had time to get in shape. I feel like I'm ready to go, and I'm ready at a moment's notice. Bags are packed, ready to go and make that adjustment as soon as it happens."