A unified sigh of relief was problem hears across the country when the news broke that the NFL lock out was on its way to being lifed.
A new 10-year labor deal is close to becoming official. All that’s needed is a vote from the 1,900 players to ratify the deal; the player representatives from all 32 teams have signed off on the agreement.
So what does the deal consist of exactly?
– The fixed term of the agreement, which has no opt-out clause, covers the 2011 through 2020 seasons and includes the 2021 draft.
– Unrestricted free agency for players after four accrued seasons; restricted free agency for players with three accrued seasons.
– Off-season program reduced by five weeks; limits placed on on-field practice time, contact.
– All drafted players sign four-year contracts (plus a fifth year club option for Round 1); undrafted free agents sign three-year contracts.
– Teams have committed to spending 99% of the cap space in 2011 and 2012, and will need to spend 95% on average for the duration of the contract. With reductions in the rookie salary structure, the percentages ensure money will be spent on the veterans.
– Player will get half of his salary, up to $1 million, in the season after a catastrophic injury. In the second year, he’ll get 30%, up to $500,000.
– Over the next 10 years, additional funding for retiree benefits of between $900 million and $1 billion.
So what’s going to happen next? The League year officially began Tuesday. As of 10am, teams were able to start signing 2011 draft picks and rookie free agents, have conversations with veteran free agents, and begin trading.
Training camps began opening yesterday, affording every team the same amount of practice time before their first preseason game.
Today kicks off the waiver period begins, in which as of 4:01pm, teams can begin terminating contracts.
Tomorrow at 7pm, full free agency begins. Roster and option bonuses that would have been earned during the lockout will be paid if the player is on the roster at 4pm.