Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen from ESPN are reporting that a new NFL collective bargaining agreement could be ratified on July 21, next Thursday. That opens the league for business, according to a transition plan, on July 25, when teams can begin signing undrafted rookies and their own free agents. The real fun could start on July 28, when the full free agency period opens. The St. Louis Rams appearance in the August 7 Hall of Fame Game could potentially be the only casualty of the deal.
The report from ESPN says that nothing has been determined yet on that game, but there are mixed opinions about whether or not it should go forward as planned. The Rams are scheduled to open camp on July 22, one day after the potential ratification of the deal. CB Ron Bartell says that's the drop dead date, in his opinion, to return to work in enough time to play the August 7 game.
ESPN's report says that training camps could start on time under the framework of this deal. Players are scattered around the country right now, but flights to St. Louis are hardly rare enough to keep things from starting on time, should the Rams be able to open camp that day. If the Hall of Fame Game gets nixed, I wonder if the Rams camp start date will get pushed back to the same time as other teams'.
Don't clean the dust off those commemorative Rams champagne glasses just yet; it's not a sure thing. Still left to be resolved is the issue of the rookie wage scale and whether or not teams will get a limited amount of right of first refusal tags for this year's massive crop of free agents.