Hallalujah! The lockout is officially over, and yes it is finally completely safe to declare it’s end — player leadership unanimously approved the Collective Bargaining Agreement this afternoon in Washington D.C.
There are still more steps, primarily the re-forming of the NFLPA as union with the NFL. but that seems to be a mere formality at this point.
Fifty-one percent of the leagues 1900 players have to approve the reformation of the union and it’s expected that the players will under take the process through a paper balloting system.
Once the NFLPA is again a union then the player’s and owners can “collectively bargain” remaining issues — injury protection, workers’ compensation, finalizing benefits, discipline and drug-testing — none of which will prevent the 2011 NFL season from starting on time.
Team facilities will open tomorrow to all players but teams will also be allowed to sign drafted and undrafted free agents.
The Saints can finally get their 2011 draft class — Cameron Jordan, Mark Ingram, Martez Wilson, Johnny Patrick, Greg Romeus and Nate Bussey — in the building and under contract.
The new rookie wage scale should make signing drafted players a breeze — four-year standard contract with a fifth option year — although agents could stall the process by holding out their players until contracts are reached.
Teams will also be allowed to start negotiations with all free agents but will be barred from actually signing them until the official start of free agency Friday.
Trades can also get underway and of the more obvious is that regarding the future of Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb.
Arizona seems to be the team most serious is trading for him, and there where even reports the potential trade would involve sending corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to the Eagles in exchange for Kolb.
New Orleans will be opening training camp Thursday according to several reports. Players will be required to show up and take a physical, afterwards they may immediately begin workouts and the first practice could potentially take place on Friday.
Saints team officials have made no announcement about a start date for camp or a practice schedule, so much of this information is speculation — although Drew Brees email to players seemed to indicate a Thursday start to camp.
The next several days are vital to everyone, but especially to the Saints, who have 26 unrestricted free agents to contend with re-signing which is the most of any NFL team.
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Tags: 2011 NFL Free Agency 2011 NFL Lockout Brady V. NFL CBA David Thomas DeMaurice Smith Devery Henderson Drew Brees Hall Of Fame Game Jermon Bushrod Jonathan Goodwin Lance Moore New Orleans Saints NFL NFLPA Peyton Manning Randall Gay Reggie Bush Roger Goodell Roman Harper Tom Benson