Brees details post-lockout timeline for Saints if deal is struck

The latest hint that the longest work stoppage in NFL history is close to ending came by way of quarterback Drew Brees, who sent two emails to New Orleans Saints teammates Sunday night.

In the initial email, obtained by NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora, Brees provided a positive progress report regarding talks to finalize a new collective bargaining agreement, before detailing a post-lockout timeline for the Saints.

"The Deal is almost done," Brees wrote. "I am flying out to DC tonight to meet with our Executive Committee and De Smith (NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith) tomorrow. It is expected that we will approve the deal as well as our Board of Reps and Lead Plaintiffs and then have a press conference to announce that sometime during the day on Monday."

Brees later sent a second email, obtained by ProFootballTalk.com, clarifying the initial timeline of when free agency, training camps and the league year would begin.

"Free Agency -- It now looks like free agency will begin at noon on Tuesday and it will be open free agency," he wrote. "There will be no 3 day grace period for teams to sign their own players. It will be open for anyone to sign anywhere.

"Training Camp -- It looks like the NFL is trying to force teams into camp on time," he went on. "This would move us to a report date of Thursday, July 28. We would have physicals, conditioning, and meetings on this day. The day before would be a travel day and the hotel would be open that night for guys to check in as well as physicals but nothing mandatory until Thursday."

The time elements involved obviously are fluid, with even Brees -- one of the more involved players in the process -- unclear on the facts.

"I will keep you updated with the latest information," he wrote in the second email. "Unfortunately, it tends to change very quickly. Just stay prepared for anything."

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An exact post-lockout timeline might not be known until the press conference to which Brees alluded his initial email. La Canfora reported earlier Sunday that a timeline being discussed included free agency beginning Sunday, July 31, with training camps starting soon afterward.

La Canfora reported that a timeline for transition rules also continued to be a work in progress, with teams believing they might need more than three days from the opening of facilities until the start of the league year and free agency.

Teams need to see 30 or more players in many cases to be ready for camp and also need time to digest rules, rework contracts and try to re-sign their own free agents.

Discussions remain on possible contingencies if it takes longer than expected to have a CBA fully ratified. Certain issues involving drug policy and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's powers in off-the-field discipline cannot be formally signed off until after the union has recertified and a CBA is reached.

Other details being discussed included whether or not a practice in shells would count as a "padded practice" or a "walk-through" in regards to the limits on padded practices in the new agreement. Also, according to sources with knowledge of the situation, the sides are determining whether or not roster bonuses from the 2011 offseason will be due on the first day of the league year, or perhaps the second day or shortly thereafter.

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