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2011 NFL Lockout: New CBA Could Be Ratified By July 21, According To Report

As we enter the doldrums of July, there is some good news about the NFL Lockout ending soon, according to new reports. ESPN's Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter are reporting that both the owners and the players believe a deal could be in place by July 21, when owners' meetings are held in Atlanta, Ga. The owners would then ratify the deal then.

However, they caution, the optimism isn't unanimous among everyone:

However, one member of the players' negotiating team who has been a constant presence at the table said that players feel they have made significant concessions and overtures "that have not been reciprocated."

While the players have agreed to cut rookie salaries, they have sticking with the need for rookies to become free agents after four years. Under the old deal, players with four-, five- or six-years experience qualified for restricted free agency.

There are reportedly "Transition Rules" floating around already to get teams ready for a new league year, which the document believes could begin on July 28. That would mark the beginning of free agency, though undrafted rookie free agency would actually start a few days earlier.

One new thing that we could expect, if the rookie wage scale is agreed upon, is a rookie signing date. This would help end long rookie holdouts.

The clock keeps ticking, but for how much longer?