As the NFL owners and players edge closer and closer to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, we are learning small aspects of the deal that is to come. The latest news to come out of the NFL's conference rooms is that teams will not have extra rights-of-first-refusal when it comes to free agency.
The owners had been requesting that they be able to match the contracts offered to their free agents in order to have a better chance at keeping them on their team. When it was clear they wouldn't get that, they asked if they could designate three potential free agents that they could try to keep by matching offers from other teams. The players didn't like that either so in the end, they got what they wanted -- total unrestricted free agency.
That doesn't mean that the Bengals are going to automatically lose the free agents they need to re-sign, like Johnathan Joseph, Cedric Benson and Brandon Johnson, though. They'll still get the first crack at signing their own guys.
Once a new CBA has been ratified and the lockout lifted, sources told Clayton, free agency is likely to begin July 25.
If the owners ratify a new CBA on Thursday in Atlanta and lift the lockout the next day, teams would then have a 72-hour window to try to re-sign their own free agents, sources told ESPN. After that 72-hour window, free agency would start July 25, sources said.
So, when the lockout is lifted, it seems like the Bengals will have three full days to re-sign Joseph and Benson along with the other players they could lose in unrestricted free agency. Hopefully that three day window is big enough to get a deal done, because if they allow some of their players to escape that three day window, especially Joseph, there's a decent chance that they won't come back.