Training camps open July 28, giving the league four weeks to strike a deal with the NFL Players Association for putting everyone back to work. Based on the league’s tentative timeline, however, the two sides have fewer than four weeks.
Per a league source, the NFL’s proposed calendar has rookies reporting for a conditioning test on July 19, with rookie conditioning beginning two days later, on July 21. That same day, injured veterans would have their conditioning test, with conditioning for injured veterans starting on July 23. Veterans would be tested on July 26, with veteran conditioning starting along with the launch of camp on July 28.
It’s all subject to negotiation with the union, however, and agreements will need to be made soon if that timeline has any chance of happening. As explained earlier this week, some teams won’t even try to bring anyone in before July 28, giving the work that needs to be done to prepare the facility for camp.
Regardless of how it plays out, it’s time for labor and management to start striking some deals, and there are plenty of issues over which to haggle. As a practical matter, they’re all tied together — no different than the many sticking points that get tossed into the same blender when negotiating a comprehensive labor deal.