The NFL lockout is nearly over, and all that's left is a vote by the NFLPA and the condition that the players' union recertifies. With that, the attention turns to free agency and the key dates for it all to take place. While announcing that the owners had ratified a proposal to end the lockout, Roger Goodell discussed a few key dates, including the beginning of free agency.
Essentially, Saturday is the day clubs can begin attempting to re-sign drafted rookies and free agents. Sunday is the day teams can sign undrafted free agents. And on Wednesday, everything goes out the window and madness commences as open season on free agents is declared.
Here's the brief schedule, courtesy of NFLLabor.com. It is tentative, and comes with the condition that the players agree to the proposal and become a union again.
July 23 Voluntary training, conditioning and classroom instruction permitted until first day of clubs' preseason training camps.
July 23 Pre-2011 League Year Period commences. 2011 Free Agency List to be issued and will become effective on the first day of the 2011 League Year (July 27). Clubs/players may begin to renegotiate contracts. Clubs may begin to sign Drafted Rookies and their own UFAs, RFAs, Exclusive Rights Players and Franchise Players.
July 23 Waivers begin for the 2011 League Year.
July 23 Starting at 2:00 PM ET, clubs may negotiate with, but not sign, Undrafted Rookie Free Agents, free agents, and other clubs' UFAs, RFAs, and Franchise Players.
July 24 Starting at 2:00 PM ET, clubs may begin to sign undrafted rookie free agents.
July 27 2011 League Year commences at 2:00 PM ET, provided NFLPA has ratified CBA. Free Agency Signing Period begins. Clubs may sign free agents and other clubs' Unrestricted Free Agents. Clubs may sign Offer Sheets. Trading period begins. All Clubs must be under the Salary Cap. Top 51 rule applies.
Everything is compressed, and jammed into a week or two of free agency. At the same time, training camps will begin to open and players will report to training facilities, as well. Because the lockout dragged on so long, this is what we're stuck with.
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.