2011 NFL Free Agents: No practice for free agents until August 4

The St. Louis Rams will open the doors to players starting tomorrow. Players can return for physicals, check in with the training staff, meet with coaches, etc. Teams can also begin the process of contract negotiations with unrestricted free agents, even though those deals would not become official until Friday. But there's another hitch in the rules that will impact free agent signings, including a team's unrestricted free agents from last year's squad. 

Free agents, even once they sign a deal on Friday, will not be allowed to practice until Thursday, August 4, when the new league year officially starts. For example, the Rams are widely expected to re-sign Mark Clayton, a move they were close to making before the lockout happened. Now, Clayton will not be able to practice with the team until August 4...good thing he's been running routes with Sam Bradford already during the lockout. Clayton and any other free agent addition can participate in team meetings, etc. until then, but no practices. 

The Rams open camp on Friday, July 29. Practices will be light because teams are not allowed to practice in full pads until Monday, August 1. 

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