2011 NFL Free Agents: Does it all start on Tuesday?

Be prepared. This is going to be a very busy week. Next week too. At some point very soon, the doors to the NFL will swing wide open, unleashing a frenzy of free agent moves. Teams scrambling to tweak their rosters in time for camp will have check books open, ready to sign players that they've probably been talking to anyway during recent days, rules be damned. According to named plaintiff Drew Breesall this could start on Tuesday, with training camp opening soon thereafter.

Brees sketched out a rough timeline in an email to teammates last night. In it he said that training camps will open on Thursday, July 28, with medicals, meetings, etc. happening that day. As for free agency, Brees says that happens at Noon on Tuesday, July 26...tomorrow. Per the quarterback, there would be no exclusive window for team to re-sign their own free agents, draft picks etc. 

I'm dubious.

NFL execs were unhappy with the "explanatory" sessions last Friday, after owners voted to approve the proposal, saying they leered nothing. Players, the NFLPA executive committee, will vote today to approve the Brady settlement. That's an awfully tight turnaround to throw teams back into the cap management game, and all the details that go with it. I suspect teams will push for just a little more breathing room. 

The training camp start date makes sense. The NFL will want players reporting sooner rather than later, not just to satisfy coaches eager to resume business, but to get those union cards signed as players reform the NFLPA, a major issue as this process winds down. 

Dates and timelines change fast in this process, so take all this with a healthy dose of skepticism. The NFLPA exec committee will vote today, but how the chain of events unfolds beyond that is still sort of a guessing game. 

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