NFL owners approved a 10-year labor agreement on Thursday with a 31-0 vote – the Oakland Raiders abstained from voting. Players are expected to vote on the same deal today (7/22/11). If approved we are in for a very busy weekend.
According to the agreement, activities would begin in earnest for the Texans and all other NFL teams on Saturday. Voluntary camps – with classroom study, training and film sessions would commence. Also, teams would be able to negotiate and sign drafted rookies, their own restricted and unrestricted free agents, cut players currently under contract, and negotiate with – but not sign, undrafted rookie free agents, and restricted or unrestricted free agents from other teams.
What does this mean? It means the Texans can sign draft picks J.J. Watt, Shiloh Keo, etc. on Saturday, as well as Vonta Leach or Jacoby Jones. They can negotiate with Chargers safety Eric Weddle or Bengals CB Jonathan Joseph, but not sign either – yet.
On Sunday, teams could begin to sign undrafted rookie free agents – after just one day of negotiation, beginning at 1:00pm CT. What this means is that Rick Smith, Gary Kubiak and staff must be extremely accurate and attentive with rookie free agents because there will be no time for delay or contemplation. If the Texans want undrafted LSU WR Terrance Toliver in camp, they’d better be first to call him.
Wednesday July 27 will be the day NFL teams open camp and are allowed to sign unrestricted and restricted free agents, trade players and be under the cap with a limit of 90 total players in camp.
It is important to remember that for this timeline to take effect, the players will have to approve the labor agreement today (Friday 7/22/11). Following the owners agreement on Thursday, multiple players immediately took to twitter to slam the proposal, fearing owners were using public pressure and eleventh hour deal-making to force the players to sign a bad deal.