The NFL lockout is all but over, pending a final vote from the players, which should happen on Monday or Tuesday. With the end of the work stoppage coming so close to the start of training camp, and the elimination of the normal NFL offseason, free agency will take on a new life in 2011. This year, free agency will be a completely different beast, unlike anything we've ever seen before. It's going to be wild, with four months of offseason transactions crammed into about a week of time.
Because free agency will be a different ballgame, there are a few new rules to get used to. Part of the negotiations to end the lockout included a provision to get rid of the right of first refusal during the 2011 NFL free agency period. Simply put, instead of teams being able to tag certain players as right of first refusal, now the players will head to the open market. There does not appear to be an exclusive negotiating period at this time, meaning free agency is, essentially, a free-for-all.
The schedule for free agency is wildly accelerated, as well. Below is the tentative schedule, as reported by ESPN.
Monday: Teams will receive the official list of free agents. Teams can also expand their rosters to 90.
Tuesday: Rookie draft picks and undrafted free agents can be signed beginning at 10 a.m. EDT. Teams can also begin to reach agreements with free agents and team facilities will open to players under contract. Trades can also be negotiated.
Wednesday: Training camps begin to open. The Seattle Seahawks plan to open camp on Wednesday, with starts staggered throughout the week. You can find a full training camp schedule here.
Thursday: Cut day! Teams can begin to cut players to get under the cap, beginning at 4 p.m. EDT.
Friday: Transactions can be filed, beginning at 6 p.m. EDT.
Again, this schedule is fluid and subject to change. The NFLPA is currently meeting and going over the proposed agreement, though it is expected to approve the settlement, perhaps as early as Monday afternoon. Any delays will impact the schedule, and it could shift by a day or more.
For the latest on free agency, including players to watch and Seahawks transactions, stay with this StoryStream. For full coverage of the Seahawks free agency moves, head over to Field Gulls.