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NFL To Resume Operations; Free Agency Still Unclear

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (credit: AP Photo/Richard Drew)

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (credit: AP Photo/Richard Drew)

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NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — The NFL has told its teams and players to get back to football, at least for now.

In a memo released Thursday hours before the draft, the NFL said players could resume voluntary workouts at team facilities, meet with coaches and go over playbooks beginning Friday. It also promised to distribute detailed procedures for signing free agents or making trades and other roster moves.

That memo, the league says, will spell out the timing for the start of the league year.

Things could change depending on how the league fares in court. It is asking a federal appeals court to put the lockout back in place.

But for now, there are some guidelines to follow.

“Clubs are free to contact players immediately to advise them of the hours that the facility will be open for their use, to schedule medical and rehabilitation activity, and to arrange meetings with coaches or related activity, such as film study or classroom work,” the NFL said.

The memo was released even as the court fight escalated over to run the $9 billion business and attorneys told players that a judge’s decision lifting the lockout “is in full, immediate force.”

Attorneys Jeffrey Kessler and James Quinn wrote that the league year “now has to begin,” that players must be allowed to lift weights at team facilities, meet with coaches “and otherwise perform their jobs.”

“It is our view that the NFL and the clubs will be in contempt of court if they do not comply with the order,” the memo said.

The league’s statement follows:

“The NFL clubs have been notified that we have requested from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals a stay of the preliminary injunction issued late Monday afternoon by the Federal District Court. Pending further guidance from the Eighth Circuit, we believe it is appropriate for clubs to take additional steps in response to the preliminary injunction. The clubs were informed of the steps below that will be effective on Friday at 8 am ET following tonight’s first round of the NFL Draft. Clubs are free to contact players immediately to advise them of the hours that the facility will be open for their use, to schedule medical and rehabilitation activity, and to arrange meetings with coaches or related activity, such as film study or classroom work.

1. Players will be permitted to use club facilities for physical examinations, rehabilitation and medical treatment, as scheduled by the club.

2. Clubs will be permitted to distribute playbooks, game film and other similar materials to players.

3. Coaches may meet with players for the purpose of discussing any materials distributed to players under item 2 above, as well as the club’s off-season workout program, its schedule of mini-camps, Organized Team Activities (“OTAs”), and other similar matters.

4. Voluntary off-season workout programs, including OTAs and classroom instruction, may begin subject to the rules in Article XXXV of the 2006 CBA and Appendix L. Participating players will be paid $130 per day, provided the player fulfills the club’s reasonable off-season workout requirements. Such workouts will count toward the requirements of any off-season workout bonus in the player’s contract.

5. On days during which no official off-season workouts or OTAs are scheduled under item 4 above, nothing shall prevent the club from permitting any player to use the club facility to work out on his own on a voluntary, unpaid basis during normal business hours, or such other hours as may be set by the club, provided: (i) there is no participation or supervision by any coach, trainer or other club personnel; and (ii) the club has first verified that the player has an existing medical insurance policy in place. Players without such personal coverage should not be permitted to work out at the club facility on an unsupervised basis under this item 5, but may do so under item 4 above. Unsupervised workouts will not count toward the requirements of any off-season workout bonus in the player’s contract. This item 5 will apply both prior to and after the commencement of the club’s official off-season workout program.

6. Mandatory and voluntary mini-camps may begin subject to the rules in Article XXXVI of the 2006 CBA.

7. The league office will promptly make arrangements to resume counseling, rehabilitation and treatment activities in connection with the substances of abuse and steroid programs. We will advise clubs as to when and on what basis testing will commence.

8. Players may participate in club-sponsored charitable and community relations events.

With respect to player transactions (such as signings, trades of player contracts, terminations, tryouts, etc.), we plan to distribute to all clubs, likely tomorrow, a comprehensive set of procedures governing such transactions. This will include the timing for the commencement of the 2011 League Year, free agent signings and other customary player transactions.”

Does this make you just a little more excited for tonight’s draft? Sound off below…

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)