Bears will need to move fast when lockout end
Bears will need to move fast when lockout ends
By Brad Biggs Tribune Reporter 11:25 a.m. CDT, June 11, 2011
If growing optimism is a sign of progress an agreement between NFL owners and players will be in place in the near future, the Bears may report to training camp on time after all.
Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Journal reported Saturday morning via Twitter that the “expectation is for a framework agreement in about two weeks.” Owners and players had a clandestine meeting in St. Charles, Ill., last week and the sides came together again this week in New York. Albert Breer of the NFL Network reported that since the most recent meeting, the sides have also had talks over the phone.
There’s a sense building that a deal could be brokered sooner rather than later that would give the league enough time for a player acquisition period that would include free agency for veterans as well as undrafted college free agents. As the Tribune reported earlier this week, the Bears currently have only 54 players on their 80-man roster, leaving plenty of work to be done before reporting to Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais.
If all goes as planned, the Bears will report the day before the first scheduled practice July 23. The Bears and Rams both can open camps a week early because they meet in the Hall of Fame Game Aug. 7 in Canton, Ohio, a fifth exhibition game that could be an advantage with the three-month lockout wiping out offseason programs. But for practice to begin on time, a collective bargaining agreement must be in place sometime around July 4.
There isn’t any wiggle room for the Bears to extend their stay at Olivet Nazarene past the typical departure date of Aug. 19. While the school’s online calendar says freshman orientation does not begin until Aug. 27, the Bears’ leaving date has been a contractual sticking point in the past because the school needs time to prepare for the students’ arrival. If owners and players don’t strike a timely deal, it could lead to a truncated stay in Bourbonnais or no trip there at all.
It remains to be seen if the NFL will make an allowance for the teams that changed coaches since last season. Typically, those clubs have been given an extra minicamp.
Eight of the 32 teams changed coaches, and some believe the league will permit them to open camp early so they won’t have too much of a competitive disadvantage.
But that’s just one of the many details that needs to be sorted out soon if the sides truly are nearing an accord that ensures the season will be a complete one. Missing even one week of training camp would cost both sides in the deal revenue, and money is what this is all about.