MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – Fans of the Miami Dolphins, and the rest of the NFL, may have a new date to pin their hopes on for the proverbial end of the lockout. According to ESPN.com, the NFL and the NFLPA believe a deal can be reached by July 21.
The significance of that date would be that a regularly scheduled owners meeting is set for that date and would allow the owners to ratify a new deal. But, waiting that long will also make August a crazy month to say the least.
ESPN.com reported that a document known as “The Transition Rules” will set a timetable for NFL teams to follow as the lockout ends. The timetable would work roughly as follows:
- July 21: there would be a session to educate the clubs on the new league rules and allow voluntary training for teams and agents.
- July 25: Sign undrafted rookie free agents, and give teams a first chance to re-sign their free agents.
- July 28: League year begins and free agency starts.
- Aug. 2: Rosters set at 90 players
- Aug. 3: Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets
- Aug. 7: Four-day match period for teams to match restricted free-agent offer sheets
- Aug. 12: Deadline for rookies to sign contracts (this could change)
- Aug. 16: Signing period for restricted free agents ends
But, the main sticking point remains a rookie wage scale. The NFL wants to reduce the top pick’s contract from $78 million over six years to $34 million over five years, with the ability to renegotiate after three years, according to ESPN.com.
The players have rejected such a deal to a degree, mainly over how long players could be locked into a contract before being able to sign a lucrative deal beyond the rookie wage scale.
If a deal is indeed struck by July 21, and the transition rules are followed, then July 28 could start one of the wildest free agent signing periods in NFL history.
For the Dolphins, it could open the door to signing a quality receiver like Santonio Holmes or even a Braylon Edwards or Steve Breaston, depending on transition tags/franchise tags/restricted free agency rules.
The Dolphins could also be in the market for some free agent lineman along the lines of Harvey Dahl and others at the guard position to either back-up, or start, for the Fins.
Finally, running back could be the position the Dolphins target early and often. The biggest free agent running back is former Carolina Panthers star DeAngelo Williams. He would add a speed element the Fins desperately need and could be an every-down back for parts of the season.
Past Williams, there’s also Darren Sproles, who would also fill a desperate need for a kick returner. The Fins could also bring back Ricky Williams or target another back-up for rookie Daniel Thomas.