The expectation going into this week is for an agreement on a new CBA to be reached in the next few days. Nothing is guaranteed obviously, but the two sides are expected to get back together today to finish things up.
Once a handshake agreement is in place, the players involved in the Brady v. NFL case will need to sign off on the new CBA, as will at least 24 owners. An owners meeting in Atlanta is scheduled for Thursday, so if everything goes according to plan, the new CBA will go into effect then.
With a new CBA in place and the NFL lockout over, everybody will need to start moving forward. After months of inactivity, teams will have to get things ready for training camp and free agency. Not everything is going to happen as soon as the CBA is ratified, though. The NFL has laid out a specific schedule to transition out of the lockout, and ESPN got a look at it last week. The schedule the NFL put together was based on July 1 being the date when the new CBA was ratified, so ESPN moved everything on it back three weeks to July 21.
If the new CBA is put into place on Thursday like most expect, the schedule to transition out of the lockout is expected to look something like this:
- July 21 - The new CBA is ratified and teams are educated on the new rules. Voluntary training on the rules is allowed for players and agents.
- July 25 - Teams are allowed to sign undrafted free agents. Also, teams are allowed to re-sign their free agents. The exclusive period for re-signing free agents will last 72 hours.
- July 28 - The new league year finally begins, as does free agency.
- Aug. 2 - Rosters are set with as many as 90 players.
- Aug. 3 - The last day restricted free agents can sign offer sheets. Teams will have four days to match any offers that are signed by their restricted free agents.
- Aug. 12 - It's unclear if this will be included in the CBA or not, but this could be the deadline for rookies to sign with their teams. If this rule does exist, long holdouts will not be possible.
- Aug. 16 - The deadline for restricted free agents that didn't sign an offer sheet with another team to re-sign. Players that received franchise or transition tags have the same deadline.
- Aug. 29 - The day players must report by to receive credit for an accrued season, which goes toward free agency.
For the Detroit Lions, you can likely add in July 29 as the day when players will have to report for training camp and July 30 as the day that practice begins. Nothing is set in stone, of course, but those are the dates I'm expecting based on past years. I suppose things could change, especially with players potentially being allowed to report back to their teams on July 25, but I really don't expect the training camp dates to be affected.
As you can see, the next month is going to be pretty crazy if a new CBA is in fact approved this week. You will have training camps and free agency starting at basically the same time, so players will be joining new teams after practice has already begun. In addition, you will have general managers attempting to re-sign players, sign rookies and fill needs in a very compact time frame. Also, coaches are going to be trying to get their teams ready for the regular season with preseason games and practices.
To say the least, there should be a lot of news coming out in the next few weeks. Usually this time of year that's the case anyway with training camp beginning, but you can now add all of the news relating to roster moves into the mix. There will be a lot to cover, but after having very little to talk about since March outside of the draft, I think we're all more than ready to get this circus started.