Right Field

Ladies and Gentlemen, I Give You: Football

NFL ownership and the players’ union today finalized a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement, meaning that the 2011 preseason will begin on schedule, albeit with a shortened free-agent season.

Here’s a good Q&A primer on how the new CBA will affect the new season and the NFL as a whole. What stuck out to me are the restrictions on padded, full-contact practices in both the pre- and regular seasons.

Each team can open training camp 15 days before its first preseason game. However, practices cannot begin in earnest until the CBA is ratified. That could take as long as August 4. Teams are already mandated to only hold meetings on the first day of camp and walk-through sessions on days two and three.

Only one padded practice will be allowed each day during the preseason. Even greater restrictions on contact were approved for the regular season. Teams can only hold 14 padded practices, 11 of which must come within the first 11 weeks of the season. Players also must receive four consecutive days off during a bye week.

I don’t really buy arguments that this will hurt player evaluation to any appreciable degree — you’re still getting a padded practice nearly every day of training camp. Though I also wouldn’t be surprised if the law of unintended consequences means that — by design or by necessity — these practices become tougher and more physical.

Also of interest are the new salary caps, which are as much a floor as a ceiling, and slightly more generous revenue sharing for weak-market teams.

Now, Are You Ready For — wait, nevermind, of course you are.

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