Many agents and general managers are bracing for the 2011 league year to begin as soon as Monday if the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals doesn't grant the NFL's request for a stay of a judge's ruling that granted the players an injunction to lift the lockout.
The league issued a statement on post-injunction operations Thursday, saying it will distribute a notice to teams -- likely Friday -- about the timing for the commencement of the league year, free-agent signings and other customary player transactions (such as signings, trades of player contracts, terminations, tryouts, etc.).
Defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch and wide reciever Nate Burleson texted NFL Network to say there are plans to begin organized team activities Monday at team facilities in Allen Park, Mich. Vanden Bosch says he also expects some players to work out at Lions headquarters on Friday. He says other teammates are making travel plans to get back to work in the Motor City on Monday.
Agent Scott Smith also tweeted that Lions players have been told to report on Monday, with OTAs starting on Wednesday.
Several top agents are advising their clients to prepare to truly hit the free-agent market Monday, which is when they expect the league year to open. If that happens, there likely would be undrafted rookie free agents hitting the market at the same time as veteran free agents. Many expect the league to implement rules from the 2010 season, though nothing is concrete at this time.
The NFL's stance has been that the beginning of the league year wouldn't occur until it had a chance to seek a stay, and it now will try to get one with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which also will hear the appeal of the injunction.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.