In case you haven’t heard, the NFL Lockout is officially—really, truly, and finally—over. Don your silliest party hat, find one of those wheedly flicky-tongue things, pour yourself a pint of your favorite, and turn up “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang. The NFL lockout is officially over, and football can finally begin . . . well, mostly. Per SI’s obtained copy of the settlement terms, here’s how the timeline breaks down:
- As of midnight tonight (Tuesday AM), players may have full, regular contact with team staff, and use team facilities for voluntary workouts as normal. Teams will be able to trade players currently under contract.
- As of Tuesday at 10:00 AM, teams may sign rookies both drafted and un-. They may begin negotiating with other teams’ free agents.
- The Lions’ training camp will open on Thursday.
- As of Thursday at 4:01 PM, teams may waive or release veterans currently under contract.
- As of Friday at 6:01 PM, teams may renegotiate existing contracts, and sign new veteran contracts. Signed rookies will be able to partake in organized practice at this time, and receive injury protection.
- As of Thursday, August 4th, the new League Year begins [presuming the CBA has been ratified by the players], and all teams must be under the cap.
This sets the stage for the wildest week of football talk in the history of the Internet. In the course of the next five days, the Lions will open their doors, sign all their draft picks, fight all the other clubs to sign ten or so UDFA, begin the chess match of free agent negotiation, start training camp, and THEN sign new veterans as current ones leave, clawing and scrapping with the other 31 teams to get 90 (!) guys on the roster by this time next week.
Meanwhile, the Lions will have to mind their salary cap Ps and Qs: the cap will be set at $120,375,000 with an extra $3M in veteran exceptions. Per Roar Report capologist DeadStroke, the Lions carried ~$127M in cap charges back in March. Much more recently, ESPN’s John Clayton reported that after expected departures, the Lions would have $16.6M of cap room—but the Detroit News’s Chris McCosky wrote last Wednesday that he couldn’t figure out how Clayton found anywhere near that much cap space.
This makes Nnamdi Asomugha a pipe dream—and even the Lions’ reported top target, Johnathan Joseph, a stretch. Besides the rumors of who’s negotiating with who that will hit the wire come Tuesday lunchtime, keep a close watch on Thursday for the release of Lions veterans. Cuts, and whispers of renegotiated contracts for players like Jeff Backus, will hint broadly at the Lions’ approach. Will they be major players for major contributors, or just dipping a finger in the frosting of a rich free agent cake?
For tonight, though, we celebrate! Come down to the blue bonfire, and make yourself at home. The casks of cider are full to bursting, and the blue flame has scarcely roared higher. We’ll toast the return of the team we love, the new players we’re about to welcome, and the glorious new season we’re surely about to go through together. This is our time; this is our year. Money couldn’t stop it, the lawyers couldn’t stop it, and the bickering couldn’t even slow it down. Celebrate with me, friends, together.