The latest reports are that owners and players are hoping to have a labor agreement ratified July 21 and indications are the league year and the start of free agency would come sometime around July 28.
Free agency will be unlike anything we’ve ever seen before because teams will have only a matter of days to pull off what they usually do over five or six months. But free agency won’t be the only thing that looks different once the lockout ends.
All indications are training camps will start on time or pretty close to it. But we don’t know exactly what those start dates are just yet. Teams are hesitant to release anything official until the labor deal is done.
But I think you could see the missed offseason cause some adjustments to what teams do in training camp. One NFC South team is at least looking at the possibility of bringing in its rookies for about three days of practices before veterans report. That’s so the rookies can get some time with the coaches and, theoretically, at least get a clue what they’re doing before they have to practice with veterans.
If one team is considering that kind of approach, I think it’s safe to assume there’s a chance some others might follow a similar plan. We also haven’t heard anything definitive on if any NFC South teams plan to conduct joint workouts with other teams.
But I wouldn’t be surprised if the Atlanta Falcons and Jacksonville Jaguars get together for a little work. They did that last year in Flowery Branch, Ga. and then played a preseason game at the Georgia Dome. Atlanta coach Mike Smith and Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio are old friends and it’s probably Smith’s turn to return the favor. The Falcons and Jaguars are scheduled to play a nationally televised game in Jacksonville on Aug. 19. It makes total sense for the teams to get some work together in the days leading into that game.