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NFL Lockout: Timeline For a Deal and Ensuing Roster Rush Comes Into View

Negotiations during the NFL Lockout have yet to deliver us a new CBA, but it has delivered us a new due date. The new CBA is expected to be delivered on July 21st...ish, or something similar hopefully, or maybe not.

The plan is that there will be a handshake deal in the next seven to 10 days. That handshake bartering will then go for some final tweaking and ratifications at the league meetings on July 21st. Sounds good, right? Sure it does. Unless you are this ESPN source from the NFLPA side that has been intimately involved with the negotiations. This source feels:

that players feel they have made significant concessions and overtures "that have not been reciprocated."

He stated that negotiations Wednesday and Thursday will be the most telling days on whether an agreement indeed will be finalized within the July 21 time frame because "we've basically reached the limits of compromise."

Jump over for more juicy details and the proposed timeline for post lockout activity....

At source of contention is the rookie wage scale and rookies eligibility for free agency. ESPN and Pro Football Talk both laid out the timeline following an agreement. I prefer PFT's:

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.

That is going to be one crazy month of roster activity! It is going to make for the most interesting preseason in the history of preseasons!