The NFL will not wait for the NFLPA to recertify as a union and will, instead, fire up the league year as soon as possible, should the players vote to ratify the agreement to end the NFL lockout. Speaking to reporters, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced the good news after the owners ratified the new collective bargaining agreement by a 31-0 vote, with Al Davis' Oakland Raiders abstaining. If the players approve the agreement on Thursday night, as expected, there will be a one-day break, then training facilities will open this weekend.
Previously, many felt the league would wait for the NFLPA to recertify before firing up the league year and allowing players to sign and teams to make transactions. That will not happen, and the league year will begin on Wednesday, should everything move forward as planned in the next few hours. Wednesday is scheduled to be the day free agency begins as it stands now, and would mark the opening of a wild week of transactions, with an entire offseason crammed into about seven days.
Players could begin to sign their own free agents and draft picks as soon as the proposal is ratified, according to Jeff Pash, but contracts would be in a state of suspense until an actual agreement is put into place. The NFLPA would have to recertify for any kind of league year to begin, Pash said, and would create a situation where the league is in a holding pattern, making the Wednesday date less than firm at this point.
The NFLPA is set to vote at 5 p.m. PDT and is expected to approve the agreement to end the NFL lockout. The agreement is for 10 years, and should ensure we don't have to go through this again anytime in the near future.
We'll be back with more as it becomes available. For the latest news and updates on the ongoing labor battle, stay with our NFL lockout StoryStream. Head over to Field Gulls for a breakdown of the lockout.