The NFL Lockout is just about over pending a few procedural moves to reform the union and wrap up a ten year collective bargaining agreement that will ensure labor peace for a decade. The end of the lockout means the return of football, and more importantly for teams building towards the playoffs, the spending bonanza that is NFL free agency. The Oakland Raiders are a team closing in on the playoffs and will be looking to use free agency to take that next big step towards a return to the top.
The 2011 NFL free agency period will be a wild one as teams will be conducting upwards of five months worth of business in the span of about a week. Teams will be looking to re-sign some of their own free agents, bring in some outside veteran free agents, sign their draft picks to contracts, and add some depth with undrafted free agents. Normally that starts in March and carries well into the summer. This year that will happen over the course of the next week. It should be a crazy time.
The Raiders face a critical offseason coming off an 8-8 season in which they swept the AFC West. They have a new head coach and find themselves possibly losing their best defensive player in Nnamdi Asomugha. Such a loss will sting, but it also opens up the purse strings to add more depth across the board. As the Raiders prepare to pursue their offseason plan, they will face the following timetable:
Monday: Teams receive the official list of free agents at 3:00pm pacific.
Tuesday: Team facilities open at 7:00am pacific and players may report for physicals and voluntary strength and conditioning. At the same time, rosters expand to 90 men, trading begins for 2011 and teams can begin signing their own draft picks as well as undrafted rookie free agents. Teams can also start negotiating with, but not sign, any and all free agents on their own team or around the league.
Wednesday: Training camps begin to open. The Oakland Raiders plan to open camp on Wednesday to begin preparations for their exhibition opener on Thursday August 11.
Thursday: Cut day as teams can begin to cut players to get under the cap, beginning at 4 p.m. EDT.
Friday: Veteran free agency transactions can be filed, beginning at 6 p.m. EDT.