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The NFL is confident enough its lockout will be resolved this week, it has established a 12-Day Plan to resume football activities beginning Saturday at midnight, league sources told SportsRadio 610.
Barring an 11th-Hour collapse in negotiations, the agreement between the league and players will be ratified this week – not at the July 21 meetings in Atlanta, as has been reported – ending the longest work stoppage in league history.
The plan, which is broken into three parts, is designed to prevent a mad scramble in player signings, while allowing the league to play full preseason and regular-season schedules.
Under the plan, teams will be allowed to negotiate only with restricted free-agents for four-days, beginning at midnight Saturday. A deadline also will be established, allowing teams to match offer-sheets for their restricted free-agents. Unrestricted free-agents will be contacted during the second four-days of the plan, with the final four-day contact window allowing teams to negotiate with drafted and undrafted rookies.
By completing personnel moves in 12-days, training camps could begin on July 27, allowing teams virtually undisturbed training camp and preseason schedules. The only teams whose schedules would be significantly altered would be the Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams, who were scheduled to play in the Hall Of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. The plan also would include expanding rosters for training camps.
Numerous reports indicate the final hurdles in completing the deal are reaching agreement on a rookie wage scale and determining a time frame for unrestricted free agency for veterans.