Players Approve Deal to End NFL Lockout

By Josh Alper
|  Monday, Jul 25, 2011  |  Updated 4:45 PM EDT
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Unlocked! Jets, Giants Camps to Start

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Jets and Giants fans, rejoice. That sound you hear is the sports world's 800-pound gorilla waking from its slumber.

It took four months, countless hours of haggling between owners and players and more than a few false breaks in the standoff, but with the NFL Players Association executive committee agreeing to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement on Monday we can finally stop paying attention to labor fights (for 10 years, thankfully) and start thinking about the 2011 football season.

Team facilities can open as early as Tuesday with training camps set to open for all 32 teams a short time later. Right now, it looks like Giants camp will kick off on Friday and the Jets on Sunday, with each team in camp 15 days before their first preseason game. 

The Jets started taking care of business before the lockout officially ended. They held a meeting for staffers Monday morning featuring a pep talk from Rex Ryan -- who found time for a jab at the Giants -- and the announcement that staffers will receive the wages lost when the team forced them to take furloughs during the lockout.

It's being trumpeted as a good move, although it seems the really classy thing to do would have been not to stop paying the employees at all since no one involved in the labor fight had to miss a paycheck. 

According to a timeline released by the league Monday afternoon, teams will be able to make trades and sign drafted and undrafted rookies on Tuesday. They can begin discussing, but not signing, free agents from any team on Tuesday as well.

The actual signings will have to wait until Friday evening, which should be one of the busier nights in the history of the league. With camps already opening, teams and players will be in no position to engage in drawn out negotiations.

You won't have to wait until Friday for the craziness to start, though. Stuff is going to be leaking out from the first possible second as teams and agents start jockeying for position in advance of the doors being fully opened on Friday.

Players like Ahmad Bradshaw and Santonio Holmes are going to be key players in that activity and the loss of a previously reported window to re-sign free agents could hurt the New York teams. This is the better way to go about things, though, because it admits that stopping tampering would have been impossible given the circumstances that the lockout has created for everyone.

That's just the tip of the iceberg, though. It is going to be a constant stream of information, real and imaginary, for the rest of the week and the best advice we can give is to strap in, be ready for almost anything and remember the most important thing of all.

Football is back and it won't be going away again for a long time.

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