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End Of NFL Lockout Means Undrafted Free Agent Signings On The Horizon

With the NFL lockout reportedly coming to an end today, all the business that the NFL conducts over a period of months -- signing draft picks, undrafted free agents and actual free agents -- will be squeezed into about a week. How will this impact former Cougars?

The process for offensive lineman Zack Williams, a sixth round draft pick of the Carolina Panthers, will be straightforward. Although an adjustment to the rookie pay scale is part of the new collective bargaining agreement, that's really only going to affect this first round picks. As in the past, Williams' bonus will be modest, and there will be very little negotiating.

The process for UDFAs -- such as punter Reid Forrest and long snapper Zach Enyeart -- is a little more murky. As undrafted free agents, they are free to sign with whoever wants them, starting at 7 a.m. PDT on Tuesday. While the lockout has been in effect, nobody from the NFL has been allowed to negotiate with any prospective players; however, teams were allowed to communicate with agents and players up until the end of the draft, and at least one agent suggests a number of agreements already likely are in place:

The combine is a convention bringing agents and teams together where much more work is done than just on the draft eligible players. Agents feel out teams for interest and players feel out agents for price ranges. It happens every year.

"I’m also going to tell you there were a lot of undrafted players that were committed during the draft for college free agency," the source said. "You had normal business, you could call agents and talk about college free agents right up until the last player of the draft was selected. I guarantee you there was a lot of negotiating going on with a lot of players during the draft, probably from the fourth round on down."

So, there's a chance both Forrest and Enyeart already more or less know where they're heading. Here's to hoping they are locations that actually are going to give them a legitimate chance to compete for jobs.

The unfortunate thing about this is that the short timeline will likely prevent a lot of guys from ever getting in front of coaches for a look. The training camp rosters will be expanded to 90, which is helpful, but usually by now teams have had a parade of undrafted free agents through their training facilities for mini-camps and tryouts. No such process this year, which means WSU's other graduates, such as Daniel Blackledge -- who might have otherwise at least gotten a shot, however long -- are unlikely to even get a look.


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