Yesterday, when Roger Goodell and the owners announced details of the new CBA they were handing off to the players for approval, they also released a potential timeline going forward.
For this audience, the two topics of most interest are probably free agency/trades and training camp.
Both depend on when/if the players vote to approve the new CBA. No one knows for sure when that will be. But here are the guidelines for what will be allowed as soon as the window opens for teams to sign their own free agents and players can return to team facilities:
+ Teams can negotiate with AND sign their rookies.
+ Team can sign their own free agents (restricted and unrestricted) and franchise players.
+ Teams can begin to negotiate with, but not sign, unrestricted free agents, restricted free agents and undrafted free agents.
That third distinction is an important one.
While we knew, for example, the Eagles could re-sign linebacker Stewart Bradley in that window, they could also begin negotiating a deal with a free agent like defensive end Ray Edwards, even though they would have to wait to actually sign him.
The other aspect is trades. An NFL spokesman confirmed to Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic that teams will be allowed to start discussing those also as soon as that first window opens. In other words, the Eagles could work out a deal to send Kevin Kolb to Arizona (which might have already happened, for all we know), but they wouldn't be able to officially execute it until the start of the official league year, a few days later.
Again, everything is based on the players voting on and approving the new CBA, and we don't know when that will happen.
UPDATE: ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that the players will meet again on Monday so there will be no vote before then. That means the timeline and the events above will extend at least to the middle/end of next week.
Moving on to the second question, the Inquirer's Jonathan Tamari caught up with Jeffrey Lurie, who said the Eagles still plan on going to Lehigh, although we don't know exactly when camp will get started.
An Eagles spokesman told the Daily News' Les Bowen that the start date gets pushed back one day for each 24 hours that passes. In other words, if a deal were to be approved today, camp could start on Thursday. If the players vote Saturday, that date gets moved back to Friday, and so on.
One part of this that directly affects the Eagles are the new practice limits. I remember talking to national reporters who stopped by Lehigh last year, and they would always tell me how different Reid's camp was from others they visited. They were surprised at the hitting and the physical nature of things.
That's been how Reid's done it for years, but now he is going to have to change. According to reports, under the propsed agreement, there will be no hitting for the first three days of camp this year, and while two practices will be allowed, one has to be a walkthrough.
It will be interesting to see if Reid pulls back on hitting completely, considering the team has not had any OTAs, or if he'll make camp as physical as possible under the new guidelines.
DIFFERENCE AMONG PLAYERS
Mike Florio over at Pro Football Talk brings up a good point about the players not all being on the same page in terms of urgency to get the deal done.
For example, there are several Eagles that would greatly benefit from getting to Lehigh right away and getting as many practices/preseason games under their belts as possible. Surely, that would help Danny Watkins, who hopes to start at right guard. And what about Jamar Chaney, who is looking to build off his rookie year and be a contributor in his second season? I know he'd like to get started.
But there's also the other end of the spectrum. Do you think Asante Samuel has any interest at all in going to Lehigh or playing in preseason games? What about Juqua Parker? He's 33 and has been in the league for 10 years. Think he could do without a couple weeks at Lehigh?
There is the issue of money. According to reports, the league would lose about $200M for each week of the preseason that is lost, and that number affects the players, since they get 48 percent of the pie, but it still makes sense that the importance of getting something done right now varies, depending on a player's situation.