It remains to be seen whether the NFL can meet their new July 21 target for ratification of a new labor deal. It’s worth remembering that targets have been missed before this offseason, and closing a deal is the hardest part.
(If it was easy, it would have happened by now.)
No matter when the lockout ends, the timeline of logistics after the lockout ends in ESPN’s report should remain consistent. Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen report that it will go something like this:
4 days after the ratification: Teams will be able to sign undrafted players. On the same day, teams will get a three-day window to re-sign their own players. It’s safe to say tampering will go nuts in this period as agents shop deals around.
7 days after ratification: Free agency starts. So does the league year. A lot of huge deals figure to be signed within hours. Magic.
12 days after ratification: Rosters will be set at 90 players. That’s a lot of signing in a very short amount of time.
13 days after ratification: Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets. (We’re assuming RFAs will only be third year players at this point, but that isn’t confirmed.)
17 days after ratification: A four-day period for teams to match restricted free-agent offer sheets ends.
22 days after ratification: This one isn’t agreed upon, but it could be a deadline for rookies to sign. Um, wow. This unprecedented idea is something we’ll delve into later.
26 days after ratification: The signing period for RFAs, franchise players, and transition tag players ends.
From PFT’s vantage point, the NFL season will essentially start the day the lockout ends, with no let up until the Super Bowl. August could be the busiest month of them all; a period of player movement unlike anything we’ve ever seen.
We just need the owners and players to close the deal.