MIAMI GARDENS, FL - MARCH 03: A view of Sun Life Stadium behind a locked gate as the NFL lockout looms on March 3, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Today is July 5. The NFL players and owners have exactly 10 days to come to an agreement in order for the Cincinnati Bengals to have a normal-ish offseason. If there isn't a new CBA by July 15, the Bengals will not be able to report to Georgetown College, about an hour and a half south of Cincinnati. The Bengals are actually scheduled to report to Georgetown on 28, where they have held their mini camp since 1997.
The July 15 deadline isn't just important for the Bengals and their ability to have their mini camp in a familiar place, though. It's an important date league wide, and many believe that if the July 15 deadline isn't reached, important parts of the season, including mini camps and preseason, will begin to be lost.
Some internal deadlines have July 15 as the date a labor deal needs to be done to save the preseason in its natural form. The NFL lockout is in its fourth month.
Even if a deal is struck before July 15, it doesn't necessarily mean that the lockout would immediately be over. There would need to be time spent for the lawyers of each side to go through the new CBA with fine-tooth comb to settle any minor differences that were left over after negotiation. Then, the courts would need to sign off on the new deal. After that, teams would need a period to sign free agents and make possible trades before jumping into training camps.
The July 15 deadline is so important because if a deal isn't reached at that point, the possibility of losing training camp becomes a real concern. If they go very far beyond the July 15 deadline, preseason games could be in jeopardy, which doesn't sound like that big of a deal until you find out that up to $1 billion of revenue could be lost if the NFL loses the preseason. Of course, if they wait much longer, then regular season games could be lost.
10 days isn't that long of a period of time. The owners and players will need to work very hard to get a deal done before July 15. Hopefully, they feel their backs against the wall and they work hard to prevent the loss of training camps, the preseason or worse. If they don't, the Bengals, as well as the rest of the NFL's teams, could find themselves in the same place they are now in August, September and maybe even in October.
As for Georgetown, Bengals.com writer Geoff Hobson says that they're preparing for a normal camp with the Bengals until they hear otherwise.
"If they end up not coming, then they'll be ready for our students," Varney said. "But at this point we're working on the Bengals until we hear something else."