Piero_Barel

Time has come today to prepare for an NFL season…

The news hit me today like that old Chambers Brothers song— “Time”….

“Time has come today
Young hearts can go their way
Can’t put it off another day
I don’t care what others say
They say we don’t listen anyway
Time has come today
(Hey)
Now the time has come (Time)
There’s no place to run (Time)
I might get burned up by the sun (Time)
But I had my fun (Time)
I’ve been loved and put aside (Time)
I’ve been crushed by the tumbling tide (Time)
And my soul has been psychedelicized (Time)

Now the time has come (Time)
There are things to realize (Time)
Time has come today (Time)
Time has come today (Time) ” (tick, tock, tick, tock)…

NFL football is back on track.  (“Time!!”)

Although veteran fan poster AaPoet continues to wander in the desert searching for his long-lost friends and audience at PE.com, we here at Eagles Eye are urged to finally relax—and believe a new NFL season is about to begin…

I think we’re finally where we need to be... a new NFL season is now beginning after 120-some days of lockout…

According to Levi Damien (senior writer for the Oakland Raiders’ site “Thoughts from the Dark Side”):

“The biggest hurdle in the CBA negotiations has been conquered. The two sides have reportedly reached an agreement on the revenue split and are now in the final stages of hammering out a new CBA. This deal is set to be complete before the NFL owners meetings on July 21. And with the shortened time period and the hopes of not missing any preseason games, an accelerated NFL transaction schedule has been put in place.”

The one last piece to be put in place for a new CBA to be ratified is working out the details of the rookie wage scale. It is widely believed that both sides agree there should be a rookie wage scale— so there will be one. The details include exact figures as well as year limits on rookie contracts. The assumption is that the new wage scale rookie contracts will be four-year contracts.

There is no word yet on whether the new free agent rules will affect existing restricted free agents … If the contract rules are retroactive, four-year veterans will be unrestricted free agents. If not retroactive, those rules will only be placed on all rookie contracts from this point forward.

Another possibility is that, due to the last minute nature of this deal, the NFL may decide to hold off on changing the free agency rules until next offseason. We will soon find out.

This new schedule, according to various sources, would hopefully allow all the necessary transactions that would typically be staggered over the entire 6-month offseason to take place within three weeks time. It will make for some excited and often nail-biting days over the next month… so stay tuned.

Here is that tentative schedule:

July 21: Teams begin voluntary training camps

July 25: Teams can begin signing undrafted free agents as well as attempting to re-sign free agents.

July 28: New league year begins along with FREE AGENCY

August 2: Rosters set at 90 players

August 3: Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets

August 7: Teams may match offer sheets

August 12: Deadline for rookies to sign contracts

August 16: End of restricted free agent signing period.

Keep in mind that this schedule is tentative and is completely dependent upon a new CBA being put into place as of Thursday, July 21.

Wow. We’re gonna need a bigger boat—and a bigger blog— to keep up with that proposed schedule of transactional events.

While all this breakthrough news settles in, I might as well put out my annual NFC predictions, which usually fall short of the mark by about 50%…i.e., I usually only pick the divisional winners about half the time over the last 20 years… and this year’s predictions will be even more dicy because of the delayed FA signing season…

But here goes:

NFC EAST
  Philadelphia Eagles     (12-4)
  Dallas Cowboys         ( 9-7 )
  N.Y. Giants              ( 9-7 )
  Washington Redskins (7-9 )

NFC NORTH
  Green Bay Packers    (11-5)
  Detroit Lions            ( 9-7 )
  Chicago Bears          ( 8-8 )
  Minnesota Vikings     ( 6-10)

NFC SOUTH
  Atlanta Falcons         (10-6 )
  New Orleans Saints   (10- 6)
  Tampa Bay Bucs       ( 8-8 )
  Carolina Panthers      ( 6- 10)

NFC WEST
   San Francisco 49ers  (9- 7)
   Seattle Seahawks     (8- 8)
   St. Louis Rams         ( 8- 8)
   Arizona Cardinals      ( 6- 10)

This prophesy is pure conjecture, especially so without the knowledge of which FA or final contract-year veteran (eg., Kevin Kolb) could conceivably wind up as a major component of any of the above teams in the NFC.

But based on a combination of observations of existing talent and working power trends, this is my humble vision of where the NFC is headed in 2011, barring major injuries to any key personnel on any team. In other words, it’s a purely hypothetical prediction of the 2011 season’s wins and losses…

I see the Divisional playoffs somehow boiling down to matchups between the Eagles and the Cowboys, and the Packers and the Falcons… Don’t ask me how or why, I just feel it…

Staying healthy throughout the whole season with regard to key personnel is the foundation of my predictions… which automatically makes the numbers suspect. Since when has anyone of key importance to an offense or defense ever stayed 100% healthy through the course of an NFL season since 1990?

You can never get ahead of yourself in the sport of NFL football… this I know.  Still, I don’t think I’m being unrealistic or too cocky when I say: all the pieces initially are there to support the Eagles as one of the three or four favorites to represent the NFC in the 2011/12 Super Bowl.

Thomas Jackson

About Thomas Jackson

Jax Sports Media has been reporting on NFL teams in the mid-Atlantic region since 2006. Thomas Jackson is its senior writer. Tom started covering the Philadelphia Eagles for the MVN Network in 2007. In 2009 he joined the Bloguin Network. He now also covers the Baltimore Ravens.

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