Donald Lee of the Green Bay Packers (Photo: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
OK, so we are ready for some football.
But are we ready for the frenzied pace that is about to take place in the NFL now that the four-and-a-half-month lockout has ended? Work that normally consumes an entire off-season is about to be condensed into five or seven days.
The 32 teams can begin to restock their rosters and there is plenty of work to be done with approximately 1,000 veterans, draft picks and undrafted rookies that must be signed in the next two weeks, writes the Associated Press. And without the benefits of a couple of mini-camps, sooner rather than later would be ideal with all training camps set to open by Sunday.
It all gets going officially Tuesday when teams can begin to sign their own free agents and draft picks, make trades and begin making overtures to free agents while still trying to decipher how to do so under the new collective bargaining agreement. Then the whole thing gets even more complex Thursday once teams can start cutting players to get under the new salary cap.
So there will be lots of moving parts even as training camps are already under way later this week.
“It’s going to be a madhouse,” agent Jordan Woy said to AP. “Very strange, very interesting.”
Super agent Leigh Steinberg realizes how hectic this period will be for agents, especially those with multiple players needed to be signed. But he also appreciates how critical the process will be for the 32 NFL teams this season.
“Let’s put it this way,” Steinberg said, “Super Bowls are going to be won and lost in this period.”
Some of the top free agents that will be available include defensive back Nnamdi Asomugha, wide receivers Braylon Edwards, Randy Moss and Santonio Holmes and quarterbacks Marc Bulger, Vince Young, Matt Hasselbeck and Tavaris Jackson.
The list of quality players looking for work only gets more competitive Thursday when teams start purging quality veterans to make room in the $120 million salary cap. The Baltimore Sun is reporting the Ravens will part ways with veteran receiver Derrick Mason and tight end Todd Heap, both of whom will be coveted free agents.
Teams will not be able to officially sign free agents until Friday.
“It’s just frustrating,” Jackson said “because when you start free agency, it’s going to be rushed and you’re going to have to make a decision before you want to and then you won’t get a chance to really get comfortable or anything. And when you do sign your free agent contract, you’ll probably sign it and have to go straight out to practice.”