Finally, A Deal? … Morning Cup O’Chiefs

That rattling you may have heard over the weekend was pro football, reaching for the keys to unlock the National Football League.

Finally, the owners’ lockout of the players appears to be on life support. Sometime Monday, the players will come out from behind closed doors with news that they’ve approved the agreement with the owners. Those words will not be the final chapter of this fourth-month labor-odyssey, but they will start the momentum towards football returning to the field and out of the conference rooms and courthouses.

Here’s what is expected from the players meeting in Washington, D.C.:

– The executive committee of what used to be the NFL Players Association will approve the agreement with the owners that was tweaked and changed over the weekend to the satisfaction of the players. This is the group that includes Chiefs LG Brian Waters, former Chiefs LBs Mike Vrabel and Scott Fujita and former Chiefs FB Tony Richardson. These are the guys that know the deal best and figure to vote unanimously for the deal.

– When that happens, there are two next steps. The plaintiffs in the Tom Brady v. the NFL anti-trust suit must then approve the agreement because settling that case is part of the labor deal. Joining Brady were Vrabel, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Vincent Jackson, Ben Leber, Logan Mankins, Brian Robinson, Osi Umenyiora and rookie Von Miller. That approval seems fait accompli at this time … a little French lingo for you.

– The other next step is approval of the agreement by the team player reps. That vote will be done via a conference call. C/G Rudy Niswanger will be representing the Chiefs locker room in this vote. It’s hard to imagine that the reps will not approve the deal, but there could be some unhappy teams and thus player reps out there. Expect that vote to approve; it will be interesting to see if the players release the vote total if it’s not 32-0. Maybe there’s a team that will go the Al Davis route and abstain.

Once that happens, the rank & file will get a chance to vote individually. That is a simple majority vote to approve.

But before that process is complete, the league will be able to re-open the doors that closed back on March 13.

There were multiple stories and information on Sunday about what happens next involving the opening of team facilities, the signing of a team’s free agents, the signing of undrafted rookie free agent, the pursuit of other teams’ UFAs and RFAs and the start of training camp.

As long as the players vote yes on Monday, some sources say the team facilities will open on either Tuesday or Wednesday. They can sign their own free agents as early as Wednesday or Thursday. Open season on all signings would begin on Saturday and Sunday, which was also reported to be the days when training camps would open their doors.

Late word from said that the agreement includes language that says the league year starts on the fifth day after the deal is ratified. That would be Saturday for the start of free agency. Plus, camps cannot open until seven days after the ratification. That would mean next Monday for the start of camp.

Whether the teams are ready to start the clock on the 2011 season, the players appear ready to go. Over the weekend, more and more Chiefs players were spotted in Kansas City and there should be plenty of them ready to walk in the doors as soon as they are open.

But there are a host of Chiefs players that have been in limbo over the last four months because they are without contracts for the 2011 season. They want to see the free agency signing windows open and open soon. Again, here are those players:

Unrestricted free agents – LB Charlie Anderson, FB Tim Castille, WR Terrance Copper, QB Brodie Croyle, WR Kevin Curtis, CB Travis Daniels, OLB Tamba Hali (franchise player), NT Ron Edwards, LB Corey Mays, S Jon McGraw, C Rudy Niswanger, OT Ryan O’Callaghan, TE Leonard Pope, DL Shaun Smith and C Casey Wiegmann.

Restricted free agents – RB Jackie Battle, CB Brandon Carr, TE Brad Cottam, FB Mike Cox, DE Wallace Gilberry, CB Maurice Leggett, OT Barry Richardson.

Exclusive rights free agent – S Reshard Langford.

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