It took a whirlwind weekend of new, disinformation and a vote of the 32 player reps today, and the NFL's long lockout nightmare is over.
Both sides have agreed to and signed a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement. An aggressive schedule of restoring sanity to the NFL's few remaining days of offseason has been set. The league is 45 days away from the Saints at Packers kicking off the regular season, which should look fairly similar to last year.
The only football minutes that are a casualty of the lockout appear to be the annual Hall of Fame game, played in Canton, OH and coinciding with the induction of new players into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That game has historically kicked off football action as the first preseason game, and was to feature the Bears and Rams.
Training camps across the league are expected to open this Friday, the same day that the NFL's free agency market will allow teams to add free agent veterans.
One of the new features of training camps: no more two-a-day practice schedules, a concession given to players. Practices during the season will have specific rules limiting contact.
Team facilities and trades may begin tomorrow, June 26. Teams will start adding undrafted free agents, re-signing their own players and signing their draft picks tomorrow as well, but these contracts will not be effective until potentially August 4, when the league year will actually begin.
All teams must be under the salary cap when the league year starts, and that salary cap is just over $120 million - a six million reduction from 2009. Some of the rules are different however - the cap is more concerned about actual cash, not "cap value."
The CBA is technically not in effect until ballots from all the Players Union's members are collected and counted, with at least a 50% plus one percentage in favor. This is expected to be a formality.
ProFootballTalk has an excellent recap of the changes to the league in the new CBA here.