Some of you have noticed that rookies are required to report for training camp before the veteran players. Some of those some of you have asked us to explain how that can be.
None of us knew.
So we looked into it. And we learned that the only guiding principle in this regard comes from the league’s Player Personnel manual, which states that clubs may not open training camp for rookies prior to July 5.
As to veteran players, the earliest date on which camp may begin is July 15, or 15 days before the team’s first preseason game, whichever is later. (The July 15 limitation does not apply to the participants in the Hall of Fame game.)
This year, 23 of the teams did not ask rookies to show up before veterans. Of the nine who staggered the dates (Browns, Ravens, Broncos, Patriots, Jets, Chargers, Eagles, Rams, 49ers), Cleveland had the longest gap, at a full seven days.
While coaches want all of the rookies signed before the rookie-reporting date, a league source explained that G.M.’s and agents regard the true deadline as the date on which the veterans must report.
Thus, even though three teams have opened camp for rookies (Cleveland on Friday and the Pats and Chargers today) and none have signed their first-round picks, the three players in question aren’t generally viewed to be holdouts by anyone but the men charged with getting them ready to make contributions in their first years on the job.