Hall of Fame game off, and other notes

The St. Louis Rams are back to four exhibition games instead of five after the NFL canceled their Aug. 7 matchup against the Chicago Bears in the Hall of Fame game.

Commissioner Roger Goodell mentioned the cancellation Thursday during a news conference to announce NFL owners' vote to approve a 10-year labor agreement.

If players recertify as a union and approve the plan soon, free agency would begin Wednesday. Teams would open their facilities to their own players Saturday and allow teams to work toward agreements with their own pending free agents. Teams could not enter into binding agreements with players until players formally signed off on the agreement.

The decision to cancel the Hall of Fame game puts the Rams in better position under the circumstances, in my view. Teams will be scrambling to sign players, target free agents and get players up to speed on scheme changes, among other priorities. There was no sense in forcing the Rams and Bears to also prepare for an Aug. 7 game.