League Calendar Will Be Crammed

Here’s the demanding list of activities that need to take place once the lockout is lifted.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Monday, July 4th, 2011 at 10:56 am | Categories: Ryan Mink

Free agency generally opens on March 5. That still hasn’t taken place.

Rookies have usually participated in at least several camps. Those haven’t happened.

The league calendar is slowly getting crammed.

That means that once the lockout ends, it’s going to get frantic around the NFL.

Business that generally spans over seven or so months could be compressed to about two months – that is if the lockout is lifted around mid-July as media pundits are saying it would have to in order to keep a full preseason and regular-season schedule.

The NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi laid out a timetable of what may occur if the lockout ends by July 15.

Here’s the remaining list of NFL events for fans to watch out for this summer, according to Lombardi’s prediction:

1. Supplemental Draft (mid-July)
The supplemental draft isn’t a major event each year mainly because so few players get taken. This year Ohio State’s Terrelle Pryor is included, which has generated some buzz. It’s not affected by the work stoppage.

2. Team Facilities Open (July 15)
Players had a brief window in which they could return to team facilities on the weekend of the NFL Draft. However, it lasted just one day and only a few showed up. The facilities opening means players could immediately return to work with coaches, training staff and other team employees.

3. Rookie Free Agency (July 16)
There’s a large contingent of undrafted players that will be in the NFL in 2011 but have no idea where. Teams have not been permitted to contact any undrafted rookies since the final pick of April’s draft. The sprint that typically ensues after each draft will pick right back up as soon as the lockout ends as teams race to fill out their roster and nab potential steals. The rush could be even on a larger scale this year if rosters are expanded.

4. League Year Begins (July 23)
There will be a buffer between when the lockout ends and free agency begins, says Lombardi. League management will need time to adapt to the new collective bargaining agreement rules and how their salary cap will be affected.

5. Re-signing Players (July 23)
The Ravens’ first order of business in free agency will probably be to re-sign their own veterans. Baltimore has said inking defensive tackle Haloti Ngata is first priority, and Head Coach John Harbaugh said bringing back tackle/guard Marshal Yanda is also a priority.

The Ravens will also have to sort out their cornerback situation, where Chris Carr and Fabian Washington are unrestricted free agents and Josh Wilson may join them depending on the new CBA rules. Fullback Le’Ron McClain, tackle Jared Gaither and safety Dawan Landry are other big names that could hit the open market.

6. Free Agency (July 23)
Teams will immediately be on the phone with agents – who they have not been able to contact during the lockout – trying to sign players they have had their eye on since February. Teams haven’t known who will be on the market, as that’s determined by the CBA, but Baltimore has a plan for both scenarios and other teams do as well.

The Ravens typically don’t make big moves early on, preferring a patient approach and bargain players that will fill holes. Baltimore did trade for wide receiver Anquan Boldin on the first day of free agency last year. Speaking of trades…

7. Trading (July 23)
While general managers are on the phone with agents, they’ll also be making and fielding calls from other teams discussing trade possibilities. This always happens at the same time as free agency, but there will be less time to devote to both. The Ravens made a few trades last offseason, including dealing for Boldin and trading away wide receiver Mark Clayton and outside linebacker Antwan Barnes.

8. Organized Team Activities (July 23)
If rookies want to enter the building before they are signed, there must be organized team activities. Signing rookies takes some time, but teams will want to start working with them immediately since rookies haven’t been able to spend the usual time with coaches learning the system.

9. Training Camp (July 27)Part of the reason the Ravens aren’t going to Westminster this summer is because they need every possible day to prepare for the season. Thus, they won’t lose those typical move-in days. In short, it’s going to be a hectic time.

Besides continuing to get rookies up to speed, veterans will also need additional time to get into football shape and learn the team’s 2011 offense and defense – which coaches have spent the past three months meticulously tweaking. It’s going to be learning and training at the same time.

10. Hall of Fame Game (Aug. 7)
The NFL preseason schedule kicks off with the Chicago Bears versus the St. Louis Rams in the Hall of Fame Game. The Ravens’ preseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles is slated for Aug. 11.

11. Season Opener (Sept. 11)
If the season starts on time, the Ravens will open against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 11 at M&T Bank Stadium. Lombardi said teams could head into their games with a stripped-down version of their offensive and defensive playbooks and catch up along the way.

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