Hallelujah! According to New York Daily News, both sides of the NFL lockout have reached a collective bargaining agreement that will put an end to this 2011 season-threatener as of July 25.
The NFL Players Association, representing the 1,900 players that make up the league, is expected to approve the new collective bargaining agreement early Monday. This means training camps can open as early as Wednesday, July 27, and clubs can begin signing their draft choices and rookie free agents a day prior on Tuesday, July 26. Veteran free agents can be contacted by teams, but signing deals with them can't begin until Friday, July 29 at 6 p.m.
This lockout has been the longest work stoppage in NFL history. Beginning on March 11, the prospects of a 2011 season were up in the air until 136 days later on July 25th. Owners voted 31-0 to ratify a collective bargaining deal over the previous weekend while the players associated held out until early Monday morning when final details were agreed upon. As stated, the Player's Association vote is expected to pass Monday making all systems go for an exciting 2011 season.
Pay attention to your favorite team in the next few days as organizations across the league are expected to make a mad dash for free agents to fill up their pre-season rosters.
Preseason games will kick off August 7th when the Chicago Bears face the St. Louis Rams for the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. Our own Tampa Bay Bucs start the 2011 preseason against the Kansas City Chiefs on Friday, August 12. They're in Kansas, but the game will be on Fox at 8 p.m.
For all your Buccaneer gear needs head to Buc Gear in North Tampa or visit their website here. You can even win $20 by entering our Buc Gear contest and, best of all, everyone get a $5 coupon just for entering.