League Hopes To Ratify New Deal During July 21st League Meetings

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 17: NFL players' lawyers Jeffrey Kessler (L), Barbara P. Berens and James Quinn walk with former NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith after leaving court ordered mediation at the U.S. Courthouse on May 17, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As the NFL lockout remains in place mediation was ordered after a hearing on an antitrust lawsuit filed by NFL players against the NFL owners after labor talks between the two broke down in March. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Concerned that the league could remain locked out by the time the regular season kicks off? Concerned that your Sundays could be filled with great times at the in-laws? The NFL could have an agreement by July 21st league meetings where the deal could possibly be ratified by the league, according to ESPN Insiders Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen.

Other people familiar with the talks now think an agreement in principle will be put in place in the next seven to 10 days, a handshake deal that would allow each side to ratify the deal to start the 2011 season.

According to the report, the only area that could cause the potential deal to stall is the rookie wage scale. According to Judy Battista of the New York Times:

...the disagreement centers on the amount of money and the length of the contracts given to players selected in the first round, who sign the biggest contracts with the most guaranteed money. Players contend the proposal by owners is overly restrictive for rookies.

The ESPN Insiders also spelled out a possible timeline based a previously developed game plan in case there was a deal by July 1st, with slight adjustments to reflect likely deadlines.

Here is how the outlined plan for a July 1 deal could be adjusted for a potential July 21 deal with what would be the corresponding dates, according to sources familiar with the document, which many teams in the league have not yet seen:

• July 1 (July 21): Educate the clubs on the news league rules and allow voluntary training for teams and agents.

• July 5 (July 25): Sign undrafted rookies, as well as give free agents a chance to re-sign with their teams.

• July 8 (July 28) -- League year starts and free agency begins.

• July 13 (Aug. 2) -- Rosters must be set at 90 players.

• July 14 (Aug. 3) -- Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets.

• July 18 (Aug. 7 ) -- A four-day match period for teams to match restricted free-agent offer sheets.

• July 23 (Aug 12) -- Deadline for rookies to sign contracts (not yet agreed upon).

• July 27 (Aug. 16) -- Signing period for restricted free agents ends, as does the signing period for franchise and transition tenders.

• Aug. 9 (Aug. 29) -- Deadline for players to report to earned credit for an accrued season toward free agency.

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