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NFL Lockout: The Transition Period Dates for Starting the NFL Season

According to a report from ESPN this morning, things continue to look positive when it comes to the players and the owners agreeing on an end to the lockout. Sources tell ESPN that a deal could conceivably be reached by July 21, a date that is now going to be considered the new "deadline" for getting things worked out. As I talked about yesterday, the biggest holdup still seems to be the rookie wage scale.

If a deal is reached by July 21, ESPN released potential dates for the start of the NFL season from a document called "The Transition Rules." The NFL supposedly drafted several documents, one of which contained dates for the lockout ending on July 1. Sources provided potential revised dates to ESPN that would include free agency, the start of the season, etc. Here they are:

  • July 21 -- Educate the clubs on the new league rules and allow voluntary training for teams and agents.
  • July 25 -- Sign undrafted rookies, as well as give free agents a chance to re-sign with their teams.
  • July 28 -- League year starts and free agency begins.
  • Aug. 2 -- Rosters must be set at 90 players.
  • Aug. 3 -- Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets.
  • Aug. 7 -- A four-day match period for teams to match restricted free-agent offer sheets.
  • Aug 12 -- Deadline for rookies to sign contracts (not yet agreed upon).
  • Aug. 16 -- Signing period for restricted free agents ends, as does the signing period for franchise and transition tenders.
  • Aug. 29 -- Deadline for players to report to earned credit for an accrued season toward free agency.

When I originally read the list above, two dates stuck out. The first one was July 28, which is when the league year would start and free agency would begin. That means training camp could commence on time, even if teams are also scrambling to sign players. We might not see Mike Holmgren driving around in a golf cart during camp sessions; he'll probably be busy trying to handle signings and what not.

The second interesting date was August 12, which is a "deadline for rookies to sign contracts." Does that mean the rookies will be given an ultimatum? Perhaps as part of the new CBA, the proposed rookie wage scale has a formula for what teams need to offer a player (plus their position) who was drafted at a certain spot. What happens if the rookie doesn't sign that deal by the deadline?

We seem to be getting closer, and I think everyone is determined to make sure football happens.