After weeks of intense negotiations followed by an unexpected court ruling from the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, we are finally getting reports of a firm date as to when the NFL's new collective bargaining agreement will be signed.
Both Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen of ESPN are reporting that sources are saying the NFL and NFL Players Association will have an agreement in place that can be ratified during the July 21 league meetings in Atlanta. John Clayton, also of ESPN, believes July 22nd is the day the CBA will be agreed upon. This news is consistent with the report that magistrate judge Arthur Boylan, the federal mediator in these negotiations, is expected to meet with both sides in Minnesota on July 19th.
Should a deal get ratified at the owners meeting on July 21st, the timeline of events could go as follows (via Doug Farrar at Football Outsiders):
- Undrafted rookies could be signed July 25th. After that, free agents could re-sign.
- League year and full free agency would start July 28th.
- Rosters would be set at 90 by August 2nd, and the deadline for restricted free agent offer sheets would be August 3rd. The match period would run through the 7th.
- Drafted rookies signing begin August 12th.
Based on this timeline, the only game threatened by this schedule would be the first preseason game: The Hall of Fame game.
ESPN's Adam Schefter is also reporting that the only thing holding up the CBA is the rookie wage scale. Owners want drafted rookies, especially first round picks, to be signed for more years.