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Free agents can’t practice with teams until August 4th

Divisional Playoffs - Seattle Seahawks v Chicago Bears

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 16: Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck #8 of the Seattle Seahawks looks to throw the ball during pregame before taking on the Chicago Bears in the 2011 NFC divisional playoff game at Soldier Field on January 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

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The opening of the free agency signing period on Friday promises to be one of the most frenzied atmospheres around the league that any of us can remember.

Once everyone is signed, we’ll all probably need a break. Good thing the CBA provides one.

Language in the CBA prohibits players who sign new contracts from practicing with their teams until the start of the new league year. That will not occur until Thursday, August 4th, almost a week after the start of the signing period and the start of all 32 training camps. The rule applies to players re-signing with their old teams as well since they will not be reporting under an existing contract. Teams like the Saints, with 26 free agents, would be affected heavily by this rule as they try to adapt to the condensed offseason timeline.

Mike Sando of points out that the rule could also wind up affecting players who get traded. He uses Kevin Kolb of the Eagles as an example, pointing out that the acquiring team would likely want to redo the contract and that would affect Kolb’s availability to practice with his new offense.

The rule only applies to veteran players, so rookies, drafted or undrafted, are able to start practicing as soon as they sign their contracts. If they sign with a team with a lot of free agent acquisitions or retentions, they’ll have a little extra opportunity to show their stuff before the vets arrive.

Teams bringing in new quarterbacks figure to be the most affected by this rule, although players who fall under its auspices are able to do classroom work and other non-physical activities with the team. That said, there’s not going to be much about this breakneck period that projects well for teams in serious flux and this rule serves to underline that fact.