The deadline is two days from now. 12:01 AM on March 4th. The current CBA, the same one that the league and the NFLPA have known would expire on the 4th for almost two years, is now here. Staring the players and the league straight in the face. On Tuesday, both sides reconvened in Washington, D.C. where mediated discussion continued. The NFLPA is still threatening to decertify and the league, it is still assumed, will padlock the doors on Thursday keeping the players out of their facilities.
What should have been happening is the start of the 2011 free agent period. Instead of staying up to midnight to report the first few free agent signings, free agency is in jeopardy of happening at all this year. In fact, it’s a guarantee that if it does start it will not be on March 4th, 00:01.
Even if a new CBA is ratified today, or the two sides agree to an extension, business as usual, or leaving the current CBA in place for one more season, it’s too late to kick-off free agency. Agents would need to be notified, players would need to be notified, teams would have to be notified. Too many involved to start the show.
When the last CBA was being negotiated, the start of free agency was delayed for about a week, and that is the best case scenario heading into the weekend now.
But while we simply wish for free agency, the rest of the NFL itself waits to find out if there will be a lockout or not.
I suppose we are all awaiting that as well, and we should have an answer sometime in the next 24 hours.