By Kevin Seifert
Thanks to ESPN's Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter for already answering the question we posed this morning: Is there any possibility the Chicago Bears could open training camp as scheduled next week and play their Aug. 7 preseason opener?
The answer, based on the timeline Mortensen and Schefter reported Monday morning: No chance.
According to their report, the best-case scenario for NFL labor talks is to reach a handshake agreement over the next week to 10 days. The presumptive collective bargaining agreement could then be ratified by owners during a July 21 meeting in Atlanta.
Is it realistic to believe the Bears could report to camp the next day? It's hard to imagine. Free agency would still be in front of them, and they would have had no opportunity to sign their draft picks or even fill out their camp roster with undrafted rookies.
And if the Bears can't begin practicing on July 23, they aren't likely to be ready to play in the Aug. 7 Hall of Fame game. From the report:
If the deal were to be ratified July 21, it would assure that almost all preseason games would be played, according to sources. Believe this: If the Hall of Fame game is the only on-field casualty of the lockout, it's a victory for everyone. And from the Bears' perspective, I doubt anyone is going to cry over the loss of a fifth preseason game.
The one game in danger would be the Aug. 7 Hall of Fame matchup between the Bears and Rams. There are still mixed opinions and thoughts as to whether that game could or would be played.
If a deal is in fact ratified July 21 -- and remember, it's is the most optimistic forecast imaginable -- it would make sense to cancel the Hall of Fame game. The Bears ostensibly would report to training camp the following weekend, along with the rest of the NFC North, and play the final four preseason games on their schedule.
Again, this timetable is based on a fluid situation. But as we discussed earlier Monday morning, the Bears are going to have a hard time starting camp on time.