By far the best NFL news in the past 2 months came down from the NFL today. They have released a statement today, saying team facilities will be open for business starting Friday morning, when players will be allowed to interact with coaches, go over playbooks, etc. From Brian McCarthy in the NFL PR Department:
The clubs were informed of the steps below that will be effective on Friday at 8 am ET following tonight’s first round of the NFL Draft. Clubs are free to contact players immediately to advise them of the hours that the facility will be open for their use, to schedule medical and rehabilitation activity, and to arrange meetings with coaches or related activity, such as film study or classroom work.
This leaves one big issue unresolved, which is free agency. From the same press release:
With respect to player transactions (such as signings, trades of player contracts, terminations, tryouts, etc.), we plan to distribute to all clubs, likely tomorrow, a comprehensive set of procedures governing such transactions. This will include the timing for the commencement of the 2011 League Year, free agent signings and other customary player transactions.
We'll know tomorrow when teams can start signing free agents, when teams can trade players, etc. My guess is it'll look very similar to last season. If it does, I don't see the Players going back to the negotiating table anytime soon, as they will have gotten exactly what they wanted: the status quo.
But we will have football in 2011, and it'll officially begin tomorrow morning. Thank goodness.