The NFL lockout was officially lifted Monday at 2 p.m. when 32 player reps -- one from each team -- unanimously voted to approve the league's new ten-year Collective Bargaining Agreement.
An unprecedented slew of signings will follow. Most teams emerged from the lockout with just 50 to 60 players under contract. The new CBA upped NFL roster limits to 90. Training camps open on Wednesday and Thursday, so we're talking about a whirlwind of transactions jam-packed into a very short period of time.Get 2011 rankings, projections and much more
For at least the next week, I'll write a column getting you up to speed on each day's events. Here's a look at what to expect on Tuesday.1. Undrafted free agent deals become official.
Rookie prospects who were eligible for but not selected in April's draft commenced contract talks with NFL teams on Monday evening. The rumor mill was red hot on Twitter Monday night, although undrafted rookies can't sign on the dotted line until today. As for a few of the bigger-name UDFAs, rumors have Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich
agreeing to terms with the Ravens, Kentucky running back Derrick Locke
going to the Rams, and Delaware quarterback Pat Devlin
landing in Arizona. We'll know these deals are legit if they are announced by the teams today. As a practical matter, undrafted rookies can't finalize contracts until 10 a.m. eastern time.
In some cases, undrafted rookies who made verbal agreements with teams Monday night will back out of those deals and sign elsewhere. This happened with LeGarrette Blount
last year. Blount was reported to have agreed to terms with the 49ers. He signed with the Titans a day later.2. Players report to team facilities.
Also beginning at 10 a.m., players can report to team headquarters for mandatory physicals in order to qualify for offseason bonuses. Reports will likely leak that some players showed up out of shape, and that others were injured during the lockout. You can be sure that coaching staffs and front offices are concerned about what kind of condition the players they have under contract are in. Theoretically, all unsigned players stayed in tip-top physical shape over the past few months. After players pass their physicals, they can participate in voluntary strength and conditioning drills.3. Rookie draft picks sign.
NFL teams typically sign late-round picks first, and those will likely be announced in bunches. First-rounders figure to fall in line later in the week. Prior to signing, rookie draft picks will arrive at club facilities to take physicals. It's going to be problematic if a rookie shows up injured or overweight. If they do pass their physical exams, draft picks can immediately begin working out.4. The trading period has begun.
It isn't out of the question that Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb
will be traded to the Cardinals early in the day. Trade negotiations begin at 10 a.m., and the transactions can be finalized right away. Other trade candidates around the league include Cardinals cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
, Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton
, and Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth
.5. The ongoing clearing of salary cap space.
The 2010 season was played without a team salary limit, but the cap has returned via the new CBA. Beginning Tuesday, teams can begin restructuring contracts in order to create cap space. For instance, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez
has a $14.75 million base salary. A large portion of that salary will likely be converted into a bonus to be paid out immediately, and the new figure will be prorated across the life of the deal. This way, Sanchez's "cap number" can be reduced and the Jets can use the "savings" to keep Santonio Holmes
and/or sign pursue Nnamdi Asomugha
The most common way for NFL teams to create cap room is by cutting players. Teams can't officially release or waive players until Thursday, but they've already begun making their intentions known. The Ravens have decided to part with Derrick Mason
, Todd Heap
, Willis McGahee
, and Kelly Gregg
. The Seahawks told guard Stacy Andrews
that he's no longer in their plans. The Broncos are slashing running back Correll Buckhalter
. And there will be many more to follow.6. Free agency negotiations commence.
Unlike trades, free agent signings cannot be finalized on Tuesday. But unrestricted and restricted free agents can begin taking formal visits to the club facilities of interested teams, and likewise negotiating contracts. Here is the league's official free agent list
. All free agency signings are on hold until Friday at 6 p.m. eastern. But facility visits are the strongest indicator of interest between player and team, so we'll have a good idea of whom will sign with whom before free agency begins.
Late Monday, the Chicago Tribune
reported that the Bears will pursue free agent defensive end Jason Babin
. The Bears will likely be among the teams lining Babin up for a facility visit.Five predictions for Tuesday:
1. The Eagles trade Kolb to the Cardinals in exchange for Rodgers-Cromartie and a third-round conditional pick that can escalate to a second-rounder if Kolb reaches certain performance levels.
2. The Ravens set up a facility visit with Asomugha. Or at the very least, media reports emerge that Baltimore has its sights set on Asomugha after deciding to cut so many veterans Monday.
3. By the end of Tuesday, over 100 rookie draft picks are under contract.
4. Reports emerge that the Cardinals will release linebacker Joey Porter
, the Patriots tackle Nick Kaczur
, the Bengals defensive end Antwan Odom
, and the Cowboys running back Marion Barber
5. We think the Jets will re-sign Santonio Holmes
. But he uses the Redskins as leverage and sets up a visit to D.C. As the top wideout on the market, Holmes is seeking a monster pay day.Get the 2011 Draft Guide