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NFL Lockout Update: Rookies can sign Tuesday, free agents on Friday

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (C) breaks from a league owners meeting, held in College Park, Georgia July 21, 2011. National Football League (NFL) players and owners were preparing to review a proposed collective bargaining agreement on Wednesday that could lead to the end of a fourth-month-old work stoppage, according to a report on the league’s website. REUTERS/John Amis (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

The NFL Netwrok reports that the new CBA will allow teams to sign rookies on Tuesday and free agency will officially open on Friday at 6:00PM ET.

This news is slightly different from what Mike Freeman reported on Sunday, in that the NFL league will not start until five days after the new CBA is ratified. Per Freeman’s report, the CBA will be signed today and free agency will officially begin on Saturday. But I’m just splitting hairs; the good news is that the lockout is essentially over and free agency will begin this week.

Per the NFL Network, the players can apparently report to their facilities for voluntary conditioning on Tuesday and beginning at 10AM tomorrow, all rookie draft picks and unsigned rookie free agents can begin signing with teams as well. On Thursday, teams can begin releasing players (hello Vince Young) and then signing unrestricted free agents on Friday evening. Needless to say, this will be a busy week in the NFL.

And speaking of free agency, here are a couple of rumors to help wet your appetite for this week:

Seahawks in on Kolb?
Adam Caplan of FOX Sports tweets that the Seahawks have interest in quarterback Kevin Kolb and are expected to pursue him once free agency begins. The Cardinals are still the frontrunners to land Kolb, but it’ll be interesting to see how the Eagles handle things if more teams get involved.

Asomugha to land back in Oakland?
While he may just be getting Raider fans’ hopes up, the Contra Costa Times’ Steve Corkran believes there’s still a chance that Nnamdi Asomugha could wind up back in Oakland this season. Personally, I see Asomugha donning green and white this year, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he chose to stay in Oakland.

Redskins to target Santonio Holmes?
The New York Daily News reports that signing Santonio Holmes will be the Redskins’ top priority heading into free agency. Considering Washington’s utter lack of explosive offensive playmakers, this news is hardly surprising. Dan Snyder won’t be able to whip out his checkbook fast enough on this one.

Favre comeback talk just speculation
Brett Favre’s agent tells ESPN that the recent rumors about his client returning for another season are just speculation. Of course, this is Lord Favre were talking about. I’ll believe he isn’t coming back the moment I don’t see that goofy grin of his being shown on television while he’s standing on the sidelines.

Pryor won’t be eligible for supplemental draft?
Alex Marvez of FOX Sports reports that the NFL could end up ruling that former Ohio State quarterback Trerrelle Pryor is ineligible for this year’s supplemental draft. Says NFL spokesman Greg Aiello: “(The supplemental draft) is for players whose circumstances have changed in an unforeseen way after the regular (college) draft. It is not a mechanism for simply bypassing the regular (draft).” So uh, Canadian League anyone?

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NFL free agency to start next weekend?

San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is featured on a banner outside the team’s store at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego July 20, 2011. National Football League (NFL) players decided Wednesday not to rush into a vote on a tentative agreement aimed at ending a lockout that has dragged on for over four months. REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com reports the NFL league year will not start until five days after the new CBA is ratified, while training camps will not be allowed to start for one week. Thus, if the CBA is signed on Monday then free agency will begin next weekend. (I used my outstanding mathematic skills to figure that out so you didn’t have to. You’re welcome.)

ESPN’s Adam Schefter also reports that a deal to end the lockout has essentially been reached and everything else over these next 24 hours is just a formality. Here’s a timeline (courtesy of ESPN) of how things will go down over the next week:

Monday: NFLPA’s executive committee votes whether to recommend approval of the CBA approved by owners on Thursday. Then, a player rep from each of the 32 teams votes whether to recommend approval of the CBA.

Wednesday: Players from some teams report to facilities and vote whether to recertify the NFLPA as a union and accept the proposed CBA.

If the NFLPA has gotten the necessary votes, teams can also start contract talks with their own players, including free agents and draft choices.

Friday: The remaining players report and vote whether to approve recertification and the CBA. If the NFLPA then receives the necessary 50-percent-plus-one-vote majority in approval, then it recertifies as a union.

Saturday: Free agency starts and teams can officially sign players.

Not to focus on the negative, but imagine if the players had decided not to decertify and the two sides actually talked back in March. A deal would have been reached months ago.

In the end, those pundits were right who said going to court was the worst thing for both sides – more so for the players. An enormous amount of time was wasted after the players decertified and tried their luck in court. Hindsight is always 20/20, but had they not done that then maybe they wouldn’t have had to cave as much as they did in the end. We won’t know the final details of the new CBA until Monday, but this will be viewed as a major win for the owners.

Either way, it’ll be nice when this thing is officially over and fans can go back to reading about potential free agent signings instead of a nauseating amount of court jargon.

NFL Lockout Update: Players won’t vote until Monday

DeMaurice Smith, (C) executive director of the National Football League Players’ Association, speaks to the media outside a Manhattan law office after a meeting between the league and the players’ association regarding labour negotiations, in New York, July 15, 2011. The NFL moved closer to an agreement with its players on Friday that would end a four-month-old work stoppage and ensure the $9-billion league opens as scheduled in September. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the players aren’t planning to vote on the owners’ proposed CBA settlement until Monday now.

From Rotoworld:

A previous “high-ranking source” told ESPN that a vote was possible on Saturday. Schefter confirms two sides have had “constructive dialogue” since Thursday night, which is a good sign. However, the players want to do a vote “on their own terms,” and one of the biggest obstacles is the demand of Chargers franchise player Vincent Jackson to either receive monetary compensation or unrestricted free agency as part of the CBA. At this point, we don’t anticipate any NFL transactions before the middle of next week. The tentative target date for full-blown free agency may be two Sundays from now.

Hey, I’m all for anything that delays this process even more. It’s not like these past five months haven’t been nauseating or anything…

There was a report that came out this morning from NFLLabor.com that stated teams could begin negotiating with restricted, unrestricted and college free agents starting on Saturday. Hopefully there’s truth to that report because it would at least allow the free agent process started. Teams couldn’t sign players of coursed, but if they were at least able to contact free agents then maybe once the CBA is signed everyone can hit the ground running.

That said, the six people who have read my columns this week know that I have my doubts regarding whether or not teams have already been contacting players during the lockout. They’re not supposed to, of course, but I have a hard time believing that teams have been sitting back patiently waiting for the new CBA to be signed. I have a feeling that we’re going to see a mass frenzy of signings right after the lockout is lifted next week. Granted, that doesn’t prove that teams have been in contact with players but it’ll at least grow my suspicions.

NFL Lockout: No deal coming until weekend?

Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney (L) talks with New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft during the NFL’s Super Bowl XLV football game in Arlington, Texas, February 6, 2011. The Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers will play in today’s game. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported this morning that a player vote on the owners’ proposed CBA settlement appeared likely for Friday. But he is now backing off that claim and says a deal may not wrap up until sometime this weekend.

Rotoworld.com has the details:

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen has backed off an earlier report that a player vote “appears likely” for Friday, now suggesting an agreement won’t come until this weekend.

NFLPA boss DeMaurice Smith is at the funeral of Patriots owner Bob Kraft’s wife Myra in Boston Friday. Negotiations on outstanding issues will hit the back burner while player reps review the owners’ proposal. Should the vote be delayed until Saturday or Sunday, the proposed free agency process also figures to be pushed back.

First and foremost, I was sorry to read about Bob Kraft’s wife. That certainly puts this lockout situation into perspective and is a reminder that there are much more important things in life than football. According to the Boston Globe, Myra devoted her time to “numerous causes,” including the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston. I am sorry for the Kraft’s loss.

In related lockout news, NFLLabor.com is reporting that the proposed CBA approval allows for teams to begin negotiating with restricted, unrestricted and college free agents this Saturday. That said, teams can’t actually sign another team’s free agent before next Wednesday, so no actual free agent movement will occur until then.

Whether it’s Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or sometime early next week, it appears that the NFL lockout will be over with soon.

Vincent Jackson will stay a Charger in 2011

San Diego Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson (83) celebrates a first down catch against the Kansas City Chiefs during their NFL football game in San Diego, California December 12, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune stated on Tuesday that receiver Vincent Jackson will play under the $11.3 million franchise tag for the Chargers in 2011.

From Rotoworld.com:

“Vincent Jackson will be a Charger, and that’s the bottom line,” Acee said. Jackson “very much” wants to stay in San Diego, though Acee stops short of predicting that one of the “hardest working and most intelligent” players he’s ever covered will end up inking a long-term deal with the Bolts. The Boston Globe’s Greg Bedard hears that Jackson, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady have “softened their stance” on free agency after Tuesday’s public backlash.

That “backlash” included Vikings punter Chris Kluwe posting this on Twitter: “Sigh, and once again greed is the operative byword. Congrats Brees, Manning, Mankins, and Jackson for being ‘that guy’. #douchebags.”

What has angered guys like Kluwe is how both Manning and Brees requested exemptions from the franchise tag as part of the NFL’s new CBA, with Jackson and Mankins essentially doing the same thing. This has led some to believe that the four players would hold up the labor negotiations in order to negotiate their own side deals, which obviously looks mega selfish on the part of Manning, Brees, Mankins and Jackson. But Adam Schefter said that he doubts these “side deals” would impede the progress that the players and owners have made in constructing a new CBA deal.

Getting back to Jackson, if he ever winds up hitting the open market he should cash in big time. Receivers that have soft hands, are willing to block, and can stretch defenses vertically don’t fall off trees. All things considered, he might be the most valuable receiver in the league. (That is, when he’s actually on the field and not either suspended or holding out in a contract dispute.)

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