In past years, NFL players under contract who held out of training camp were required to show up at least 30 days before the Week One regular-season opener, or lose a year of accrued service toward free agency.
This year, based on the new CBA, a player under contract must show up by the 23rd day of the 2011 league year.
The league year is expected to begin no later than August 4.
The name to watch in that regard is Titans tailback Chris Johnson. He’s entering the fourth year of a five-year rookie deal, and there’s a growing belief that Johnson won’t show up until he gets paid not just like an elite tailback, but like an elite player, regardless of position.
Johnson could still hold out until the 10th week of the season and get credit for completing the fourth year of his contract. Given that he’s under contract for another year beyond 2011, it arguably doesn’t matter whether Johnson picks up the all-important fourth year of accrued service this season.
Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis was in the same boat last year, and he willingly gave up the fourth season of accrued service since he knew he wasn’t going to be a free agent in 2011, even if he showed up before the deadline.
So despite the headline, don’t be surprised if Johnson doesn’t show up on Day 23 of the 2011 league year.