The wires are burning up today with optimism and folks are circling next Thursday on their calendars. Summer officially ends that day as the NFL gets back to business...maybe. Meeting in Atlanta that day, owners and expected to ratify the new deal, getting back to business on Monday, July 25. At least that's how the current timeline looks, assuming the deal gets done when the media is predicting it to happen.
According to the plan, teams can start signing undrafted rookie free agents and their own free agents on Monday, July 25. The St. Louis Rams don't have a long list of free agents, but there are a few that you can expect them to re-sign when that window opens. They were said to have been close to a deal with WR Mark Clayton before the lockout prevented anyone from signing it. DT Gary Gibson, a starter last year, is one player that figures to be back as well. You can take a look at my internal free agent priorities here. And here's the list of guys that they can just let walk.
Billy Devaney will also be busy getting undrafted free agents line up for a deal. Last year the Rams found a handful of competent role players among that group, including receivers Dominique Curry and Brandon McRae. DT Jeremelle Cudjo played enough to pique interest in his second season, and former Duke QB Thaddeus Lewis earned a job as the team's third QB. This year's crop of undrafted players includes a couple of running backs that could be of interest to the Rams.
With the matinee out of the way, the main production starts on Thursday, July 28, when teams can start signing any and all free agents. The Rams have a couple of players they are expected to pursue, including Giants DT Barry Cofield.
The deadline for rookies to sign contracts, though not yet agreed upon, could be August 12.
As should be stated with any reports of progress on resolving the NFL lockout, be prepared for anything. Settlement talks have yet to conclude, so things can still happen to scuttle a deal. However, a date with Judge Arthur Boylan on July 19 does look pretty ominous at this point. If business resumes the week after that, hold on tight because things are going to happen very, very fast.