Everybody is weary of hearing that a settlement to end the NFL lockout is near, but this time, people on the management and players sides clearly are preparing to go back to work.
Talks adjourned Friday in New York without a signed agreement, but amid reports that major CBA issues were settled. Everyone involved seems to think the lockout is all but officially over. The joint statement issued by the league and the NFLPA referred to "legal and financial teams" working through the weekend.
Coincidentally or not, LehighValleyLive.com reported that tents and bleachers started going up at Lehigh Friday. The Eagles haven't set a date for 2011 training camp. It traditionally opens near the end of July. At least one report Friday said players expect to have an agreement ratified and to report to their teams on Monday, July 25.
Eagles officials had no comment, except to reiterate that the team has retained its plans for training camp at Lehigh, even as other teams have decided to hold camp at their practice facilities.
There are conflicting reports on what the seven-to-10-year CBA agreement looks like. We need more information before we can say much about what it means to the Eagles. But they are still expected to have as much cap room to sign free agents as just about anyone. Based on the Thursday report of a $120 million cap that would "spend like" $130 million (I assume that refers to loopholes and exceptions), the Eagles ought to have $20 million to $25 million free.
All indications are that the Eagles have a free-agency shopping list of several players, which means they probably aren't going to spend all their cash in one spot (Nnamdi Asomugha). Also, I've finally learned how to spell Asomugha without looking it up, thus ensuring he won't sign here.
Look for the free agent marketplace to take place during training camp, with players added on the fly. (Maybe literally. Wouldn't that be fun? "Vick goes long to DeSean Jackson, who's wide open ... wait a minute. Johnathon Joseph just emerged from an Escalade in the parking lot, sprinted onto the field and broke up the pass!")
Here's hoping that with everything else that is going on, the new rookie salary rules will put an end to wondering when the guy drafted in front of the guy the Eagles drafted is going to sign, so we can finally see the Birds' first-round pick.
In fact, if Danny Watkins isn't in town and raring to go as soon as the deal is ratified, I'll be shocked. Better question will be, without the usual spring camps, how much can rookies contribute this year?
One more prediction: Kevin Kolb will be a Seahawk or a Cardinal before players report.