According to John Clayton of ESPN.com, on May 2nd, league owners officially opted out of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). In March of 2006, the NFL and the NFLPA agreed to an extension to the CBA through the 2012 season, with a salary cap in effect through the 2011 season. The last year has always been uncapped and has always included some poison pills in an attempt to get the owners and the players to agree to extensions early.
This last agreement included an option for either the NFL or the NFLPA to opt out of the deal early.
With the owners electing to void the CBA early, the CBA will expire following the 2010 season, the salary cap will remain in effect through the 2009 season and the 2010 season will be uncapped and the final college draft would take place in April of 2011. The owners had until November of this year to make the decision, but elected to do it early in an attempt to get the ball rolling on negotiations.
Pat Kirwan of NFL.com, Jason Cole of Yahoo Sports and Jaguars.com, each wrote detailed articles explaining what will happen if an extension to the CBA is not reached in the near future. Judging from the contrasting points in all the articles written above, the media doesn't even know entirely what is going to happen if the CBA expires and neither do I, but from what I understand, this is how the expiration of the CBA could affect the Lions.
If an agreement isn't reached before March of 2011, most people believe that the Owners will lock out the players, basically barring them from participating in free agency. The owners from the small market teams can not afford to pay high end players without a salary cap that includes revenue sharing. Salaries for the top end players will sky rocket as the high market teams (Dallas, Washington, New England, etc) will pay top dollar to entice players to sign a contract and low market teams that depend on revenue sharing (Minnesota, Indy, Atlanta, etc) won't be able to compete. If they aren't able to compete, they will vote to lock out and the owners of the high market teams will vote with them because they need to protect themselves from themselves.
All in all, what has been a win/win situation for both the owners and the players will become a lose/lose situation for both the owners and the players.
They will get a deal done to extend the CBA and keep the salary cap intact, it's in the best interest of everyone concerned (high market teams, low market teams, mid market teams, high caliber players, average players, minimum pay players).
The Lions have made a couple of moves in the 2nd half of May, but their roster remains maxed out at 80 players. Recently signed players have about one more month to impress the coaching staff as nine players will be released to free up roster spots to sign the recently drafted rookies. Recently drafted rookies receive a roster exemption until they sign a contract.
The Lions signed Greg Lee (WR) and UDFA Shemiah Legrande (DT) to one year contracts for the league minimum ($295,000). They also released Clark Harris and Isreal Route. They had both originally signed contracts on the 1st of January. The above transactions have a minimal effect on the Lions salary cap (less than $10,000).
Kalimba Edwards - When Edwards was released by the Lions in March, he was designated as a June 1st release. On Monday, June 2nd, the Lions will reap the rewards of that designation when they get an additional $4M of cap space for the current year with $2M of dead cap in 2009. The freed up cap space will be used to sign the bulk of the rookie draft picks.
$4M will not be enough to sign all of the rookie draft picks. Look for the Lions to make at least one significant move to free up cap space before training camp, either in the form of a significant cut, an extension for a player like Jason Hanson, Roy Williams or Dominic Raiola or a contract restructure of Cory Redding. One way or another the Lions will need to free up some cap space before they sign all of their rookie draft picks.
As of Monday, June 2nd, the Lions are about $3.9M under the salary cap.