We always hate to post back-to-back lockout items, but dammit, if this thing is going to end soon we need to get these in while we can.
Briefly following up Gagnon’s latest update in which he passed along a report from ESPN’s NFL oracle duo of Chris Mortenson and Adam Schefter, here are the important dates in the league’s transition rules document, dates that will come into effect if a new CBA is finalized by July 21.
It’s no surprise that the time line laid out by Mortenson and Schefter is tight. August will be a historic month for player movement in an offseason that’s already seen plenty of history.
From Mort and Schefter:
July 21 — Educate the clubs on the new league rules and allow voluntary training for teams and agents.
Aug. 29 — Deadline for players to report to earned credit for an accrued season toward free agency.
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.
Obviously the most important date to keep in mind here is July 28, with the league beginning the new league year and the frenzied free agency signing period one week after a deal is reached. I’m assuming we don’t need to keep qualifying these reports with little cute add-ons like “if a deal is actually reached,” right? I’m sure we’ve all lost hope in the NFL and humanity by now.
Although the schedule here is clearly more condensed than what it would be during a typical offseason, it still generally looks the same with one massive, glaring exception: the Aug. 12 deadline for rookies to sign contracts.
Every August there are several major rookie training camp holdouts, some lasting well into the month. The most infamous and recent example of course is San Francisco wide receiver Michael Crabtree, the 10th overall pick in 2009. Unhappy with the offer on the table, Crabtree sat out until early October, finally signing a six-year, $32 million contract on Oct. 7. He didn’t appear in a game until Oct. 25.
The details remain murky, but it appears as though the new CBA aims to end prolonged rookie holdouts, getting prized draft picks to camp early in August.