Liz Mullen of Sports Business Journal tweets that NFL free agency is expected to begin roughly one week after the new Collective Bargaining Agreement has been signed.
For now, the expectation is that an agreement will be done this Thursday. Teams will get three days to study the new labor rules, followed by three days to sign undrafted rookies and “keep their own.” Free agency should start on the seventh day, now estimated at July 28 (not July 25). Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post describes free agency as “a fire drill. … Packing four months of moves into about four days.” The month of August will be jam-packed with NFL news.
This is why teams with new coaching staffs or ones that will be relying on rookies to contribute will have a tough time competing this year. Usually teams have months to get new players up to speed, and now this year they’ll only have weeks. It wouldn’t surprise me if the majority of teams that made the playoffs last year do so again in 2011. (Assuming of course that those teams’ rosters only need minor tweaking.)