There's lots of information out there on the expected demise of the NFL lockout and the adoption of a new collective bargaining agreement between the owners and players. The 'bottom line' with all this info is that by Saturday the NFL will resume operations and teams will begin gearing up for training camps, free agency, and the start of preseason.
Football is returning. It is happening. Soon it shall be reality. Rejoice and be glad!
The timeline of events to make the new NFL year possible is not, as yet, set in stone because several important procedural things need to get finalized before the NFL will declare itself open for business again. I'll do my best to outline the timeline:
- The NFLPA is currently meeting today in
New YorkWashington DC to debate and vote on the proposed CBA. All the language is finalized and the documents met with lawyer approval. The debate today is to provide players with a forum to discuss issues they have with the new deal. NFLPA president Kevin Mawae said the players are not bound to the July 21st timeline, but that is just Mawae talking. The deal will get approved today or tomorrow by the players, as expected.
- The NFLPA will re-certify as a union before voting.
- The NFL owners are gathering in Atlanta, GA for tomorrow's owners meeting. All 32 owners will be there along with several NFL executives, including (it's rumored) Bill Polian. At the meeting tomorrow, the owners are expected to vote on and approve the new CBA.
- When the owners agree to the CBA, the lockout will end and players will be allowed to contact their teams and re-enter team facilities to receive medical treatment. Friday is the day several players, including Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey, expect to report.
- The NY Times is reporting that 90 minutes after CBA is ratified by owners, a special seminar will be available for NFL executives to attend to get familiar with the new rules.
- According to The Sports Journal, teams and agents will get three days to familiarize themselves with new rules.
- Teams will also receive three days to sign their own free agents along with rookie free agents.
- Full free agency will begin 'about a week' after CBA is ratified. This remains consistent with the expected schedule. On July 25th, teams can try to re-sign their own free agents and rookie free agents. On Thursday, July 28th, full free agency will begin. July 28th will be 'about a week' after CBA is expected to be ratified.
- Colts training camp is expected to open August 1st and run through the 18th. Nothing in this timeline affects that.
The next few weeks are going to be crazy folks, but crazy in a fun, exciting way. Football is on its way back. Feels like we're emerging from the desert, and I cannot wait for the day when I no longer have to tag my stories with 'NFL Lockout' anymore.