With the major issues, both economic and otherwise, mostly worked out and agreed upon in principle (allegedly), it appears the the NFL Lockout will finally, mercifully, end this week. The Owners and Players are going to be working on Monday and Tuesday on the final points, but once that's done and the sides have put their John Hancocks on the paper (ok, that sounded wrong), to put it mildly, it is going to get crazy.
I'm here to give you the rumored timeline of the madness. According to EPSN's sources, the hope is that a scheduled mediation on Tuesday will push both sides to a final agreement, so the players can recertify as a union and officially approve the agreement by Wednesday.
When that happens, the Owners can then ratify the new CBA on Thursday while they're at league meetings in Atlanta. If all of that happens, and goes according to plan (fingers crossed), here's how the schedule would look (keep in mind this is a rumored and alleged schedule - it's probably not completely accurate but should give you an idea of what to expect):
Teams will have 72 hours to:
-Learn the new rules and carefully read the new CBA.
-Sign their rookie draft picks and any undrafted free agent rookies they can get their grubby little mitts on.
-Re-sign their pending free agents. For the Seahawks, this means guys like Brandon Mebane, Lawyer Milloy, Jordan Babineaux, and... oh yeah, Matt Hasselbeck. If they choose not to sign these players or the players reject any offers made, they will enter the scary open waters of free-agency.
(UPDATED: Rumor has it that the window of time to read the new CBA will be 72 hours, followed by 72 hours to sign rookies and UDFAs; per Liz J Mullen of the Sports Business Journal, "SBJ: Sources: Agents, clubs 3 to get days to study new rules + 3 days to sign undrafted rookies, players on club from last year B4 FA starts."
In other words, about a week after the agreement is ratified, we'll have free agency.)
After the 72 (or 144 hour, depending on your source) hour period, the shit will hit the proverbial fan.
League-wide free agency will begin in earnest on July 25th (give or take a day or three). Several hundred players will be looking for contracts and teams will be in a mad-dash to win the bidding wars. Not only this, but some teams will be forced to spend a LOT of money to meet the new Salary Cap floor (somewhere near $108-$120 million).
The Seahawks are expected to have to spend between $20 and $40 million in free agency to fulfill this requirement, but that money will go fast. Don't expect a lot of huge splashy moves from the 'Hawks, but it will get interesting with a few key moves.
Training camp will start concurrently (or soon thereafter), bringing teams' veterans and signed players together with new rookies, undrafted free agents, veteran free agents and, in the Seahawks' case, new coaches together for one giant mixer. Bring your name tags and icebreakers.
The Seahawks training camp and preseason is shaping up nicely to be a total clusterf*ck. New coaching staff (offensive line coach Tom Cable and Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell, most notably), new playbook (or at least, partially new), possibly new quarterback, and many new players. It will be a mad scramble to get in football shape, learn the playbook, and get in sync with your teammates.
This comes on the heels of a season where the Seahawks made more roster transactions than any other team by a long shot. By my rudimentary calculations, only 27 players remain from prior to Pete Carroll and John Schneider taking the reins in Seattle. Of those 27, many are free-agents or release candidates. When it's all said and done, it's possible that only 14-15 'pre-Carroll' Seahawks will remain. It's been just over one year, folks.
Expect more of this in 2011. And expect me to keep you up to date on all the transactions. I've got a box of No-doze and some Redbull ready once this lockout ends so I can keep up with all the action that's about to go down. It's going to be fun and will hopefully make up for all the godawful boring lockout updates we've endured over the last 100+ days.