Folks Seattle Seahawks football is back!
With the NFLPA executive board and 32 team reps unanimously approving a new CBA that will, when fully ratified, end the 136-day lockout and allow the Seahawks to get back to the business of football.
Here are the key dates and events this week, as released by the NFL, with the NFL returning to football:
Monday, July 25: The league will publish the 2011 free agency list, which will become effective Friday, July 29.
Tuesday, July 26: Club facilities – including Virginia Mason Athletic Center – open at 7 a.m., PT, and players may report for physicals and voluntary strength and conditioning; the trading period also begins at 7 a.m.; rosters expanded to 90 players; clubs may negotiate with and sign their own draft choices and also players not selected in the April NFL Draft; clubs may negotiate with – but not sign – their own free agents and those who played for other teams last season.
Wednesday, July 27: Training camp opens for the Seahawks, as well as the other nine teams who will open their preseason on Thursday, Aug. 11.
Thursday, July 28: Training camps open for the 10 teams whose first preseason game is Friday, Aug. 12; waivers begin at 1:01 p.m., PT.
Friday, July 29: Training camps open for the 10 teams who open their preseason on Saturday, Aug. 13; at 3 p.m., PT, clubs may sign or extend offer sheets to all eligible players.
If the smiles on the faces of the Seahawks assistant coaches weren’t telling enough, than the words from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell were.
“This a long time coming, and football’s back,” Goodell said Monday, after the NFLPA executive board and 32 team reps voted unanimously to approve terms of a new CBA that will end the 136-day lockout – a 10-year deal the owners had approved on Thursday.
“And that’s the great news for everybody.”
Like the Seahawks’ assistant coaches. As with everyone else, they have been in limbo since the lockout began on March 11.
Goodell was joined at the joint news conference in Washington, D.C., by NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and key members of the NFLPA and NFL ownership.
“To our fans, I know that you love this game as much as I do,” Smith said. “And I know it has been a very long process, since the day that we stood here that night in March. But our guys stood together and when nobody thought we would and football is back because of it.”
The 4½-month lockout cancelled minicamps and OTA works, not to mentioning delaying the start of the NFL year – including free agency.
“This has been a long road for everyone involved,” NFLPA president Kevin Mawae, a former Seahawk, said in a statement. “While it is not yet over, the diligence demonstrated by active and former players speaks volumes to their dedication to reaching a fair deal. This settlement is an essential component to what will be a long-time agreement benefitting players, owners and fans.”
The obvious question now: What’s next?
The 10 plaintiffs in the Brady antitrust lawsuit have to agree to sign off on the settlement, as does the entire NFLPA membership.
Today, a list of free agents will be published by the NFL at 3 p.m. PT, but it won’t become effective until Friday.
Tuesday, facilities will open and players may report for physicals and voluntary strength and conditioning. The trading period also will begin, while rosters will be expanded to a 90-player limit. Teams also can start signing those players not selected in the April NFL Draft, and their own draft choices. Teams also can begin negotiating with – but not sign – free agents, their own and those who were with other teams last season.
Wednesday – Thursday, waivers begin, and training camps begin to open.
Friday, full free agency begins, and training camp opens for remaining teams.
Aug. 4 will be the first day of the 2011 league year, assuming the CBA has been ratified by the NFLPA. All clubs must be within the salary cap. All contracts signed on or after July 26 become effective.
Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft used the news conference as an opportunity to apologize to the fans, before adding, “The end result is we’ve been able to have an agreement that I think is going to allow this sport to flourish over the next decade.”