Roger Goodell

Not Paul Tagliabue.

There’s talk a new labor deal could be finished in the next few weeks and that means the league will have to start setting dates for things like free agency, signing undrafted players and roster deadlines.

If, as some have suggested, a tentative deal can be in place by the owners meeting on July 21, which would give them the chance to vote on and ratify a new collective bargaining agreement, the league year will proceed as follows.

July 21 — Educate teams on the new rules and allow training for teams and agents.
July 25 — Teams can sign undrafted rookies and re-sign their own free agents.
July 28 — Free agency begins.
Aug. 2 — Rosters must be at 90 players.
Aug. 3 — Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets.
Aug. 7 — Teams can match restricted free-agent offer sheets for four days.
Aug 12 — Deadline for rookies to sign contracts. This has not yet been agreed upon.
Aug. 16 — The signing period for restricted free agents ends, along with the signing period for franchise and transition tenders.
Aug. 29 — Deadline for players to report to earn an accrued season toward free agency.

Before anyone gets too excited, there have been whispers the players don’t feel a deal is imminent and the league is pushing the idea that it is through the media to put pressure on them.

CBS Sports, using an unidentified player as a source, reports the July 21 deal date is unrealistic.

“That’s not true,” the player said. “All that is hype coming from the owners side to try and put pressure on us to do a deal. They want to make us look bad. It’s simply not true. There is a lot of work to be done. They are not close.”

“When Gene Upshaw and Paul Tagliabue went into a room, they got it done. That’s what needs to happen now. The players in there are smart, but they don’t know how to close a deal. As for Goodell, he needs to drop his nuts. He needs to have the power to do a deal. It needs to be two guys in a room.”

In other news, baseball is becoming a lot more interesting.