Many reporters who have been covering the NFL lockout have marked July 15th as the believed internal deadline for a deal to be reached and the full pre-season saved. With the 15th only four days away, many people feel that a deal will not be done by then, leading to pessimistic feeling among fans that a deal would be done.
But if ESPN’s most recent report is true, then the owners and players may have more time then we think to get a deal done. ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen are now reporting that the two sides have a self imposed deadline of July 21st to get a deal done. The 21st is also the day of a planned meeting among league officials in Atlanta.
According to Schefter and Mortensen, if a deal was able to be reached by the 21st, the full preseason schedule would be left intact- except for possibly the Hall of Fame Game on August 7th. The report also states that an owner they spoke to said their is “no reason to believe it won’t get done.”
Schefter and Mortensen state that while a deal should be done by then, there is a growing sentiment amongst the players that they have done all the compromising they can, and are looking for the owners to do the same to finish the deal. Once again, the rookie wage scale seems to be one of the final sticking points in getting a deal done.
An interesting part of the report is a proposed “post-lockout” schedule. Here is what a timeline for signing free-agents post lockout would look like, according to ESPN:
July 21- Educate the clubs on the new league rules and allow voluntary training for teams and agents.
July 25- Sign undrafted rookies, as well as give free agents a chance to re-sign with their team.
July 28- League year starts and free agency begins.
August 2- Rosters must be set at 90 players.
August 3- Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheet
August 7- a four-day match period for teams to match restricted free-agent offer sheets.
August 12- Deadline for rookies to sign contracts (not agreed upon)
August 16- Signing period for restricted free agents end, as does the signing period for franchise and transition tenders
August 29- Deadline for players to report to earn credit for an accrued season toward free agency.
One interesting note from this potential schedule is that in in theory, players could still be waiting to see if a team is going to match a contract while participating in training camp. Of course, the likely hood of players coming to training camp without a deal in place are slim to none- which could lead to a lot of holdouts this year.
Will Schefter and Mortensen be the ones to first report the correct ending to the NFL lockout? Time will tell, but as the details continue to come together, it appears more and more like no games will be missed- regular or pre-season.