Scramble'11: NFL's post-lockout schedule


As of this moment, we don't yet have labor peace in the NFL. That means we can't possibly project when the events you are so interested in -- free agency and training camp, to name two -- will take place.

But I do think we can begin laying the foundation for how Scramble'11 will flow once the dam is lifted. What follows is the schedule the NFL mapped out Thursday evening after owners ratified the collective bargaining agreement. It's now awaiting player approval. We don't know when the clock will start, but we do think we know what will happen after it does:

Day 1: Voluntary player training, conditioning and classroom work at team facilities. Also, a brief exclusivity window will open. Teams can renegotiate existing contracts of current players. They can sign draft picks and re-sign their own free agents. At 2 p.m. ET, they can commence negotiations with other teams' free agents and also undrafted rookies but not officially sign them.

Day 2: Teams can start signing undrafted rookies at 2 p.m. ET.

Day 5: Teams can formally sign any unrestricted free agents. Restricted free agents can sign offer sheets. Trades can be completed. All teams must be under the $120 million salary cap. Rosters can expand to 90 players. Training camps can open but activities are limited to physicals, meetings and conditioning.

Day 6: Training camp practices can begin but without pads.

Day 7: Players again can't wear pads during practices.

Day 8: Padded practices can begin.

If it all plays out this way, we're due for an unprecedented overlap of free agency and training camp. The hope, however, is that many deals will be ready to sign on that first day of camp because teams will have spent the past four days negotiating. Still, it's possible teams won't begin full practices on the first day they're eligible to.

If players don't ratify the CBA Friday, the earliest Day 1 could be is Sunday. (Which is preferable to all of us who have U2 tickets Saturday night.) Tweaks are always possible, but the NFL seems set on following this schedule once it lifts the lockout.