NFL owners approved a proposed labor deal on Thursday. If players also approve, which must happen for there to be football, here is a look at what this means for the Patriots and other NFL teams from a schedule standpoint:
Saturday, July 23 -- Facilities open to players. Voluntary training, conditioning and classroom instruction permitted until first day of clubs’ preseason training camps.
Saturday, July 23 -- Clubs/players may begin to renegotiate contracts. Clubs may begin to sign drafted rookies and their own unrestricted free agents (e.g. Matt Light), restricted free agents (e.g. BenJarvus Green-Ellis), exclusive rights players (e.g. Kyle Arrington) and franchise players (e.g. Logan Mankins).
Saturday, July 23 -- Waivers begin; clubs may begin to release/waive players.
Saturday, July 23 -- Starting at 2 p.m., clubs may negotiate with, but not sign, undrafted rookie free agents, street free agents, and other teams' free agents.
Sunday, July 24 -- Starting at 2 p.m., clubs may begin to sign undrafted rookie free agents (e.g. Boston College's Mark Herzlich).
Wednesday, July 27 -- 2011 league year begins at 2 p.m. Teams can begin to sign free agents from other teams, and trades can be made. All clubs must be under the $120 million salary cap. Rosters expand to 90 players (up from 80 last year).
Wednesday, July 27 -- Training camps open for all clubs. Day 1 activities limited to physicals, meetings, and conditioning. No pads permitted for practices on Day 2 or Day 3.
Thursday, August 11 -- Preseason Week 1: Patriots vs. Jaguars, 7:30 p.m., Gillette Stadium.
Other notable items included in the proposal ratified by owners on Thursday evening that would affect free agency and the Patriots' salary cap situation:
Players will earn unrestricted free agency with four accrued seasons, unchanged from the capped-year (2009 & prior) threshold of the prior CBA. This only affects safety Jarrad Page, who will be an unrestricted free agent under the terms of this proposal.
Franchise and transition tags will remain. This means that guard Logan Mankins' free agency will continue to be restricted by the rules of the franchise tag.
All drafted rookies will sign four-year contracts; first-round selections will have a fifth-year team option included. Undrafted rookie free agents may only sign three-year deals. All rookie contracts will have limited terms and strong anti-holdout rules.
In 2011, teams will have $3.5 million (taken from "performance-based pay," which does not fall under the salary cap) to fund veteran player salaries who may otherwise be "cap casualty" cuts. Teams may also "borrow" $3 million in cap room from a future season to retain veteran players. In 2012, teams will have $1.5 million to "borrow" from future cap room. Both these amounts would be repaid in future years.
More details on the proposal can be found at NFLLabor.com, a website operated by the NFL dedicated to the lockout.