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Veteran Free Agents Can't Practice Until Thursday

Fans will have to wait until Thursday to see veteran free agents like WR Plaxico Burress practice.  (Photo by Joe Corrigan/Getty Images)
Fans will have to wait until Thursday to see veteran free agents like WR Plaxico Burress practice. (Photo by Joe Corrigan/Getty Images)
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Jets fans were excited about Gang Green finally hitting the field today, and many kept track of the team's private practice via Twitter.  Many were disappointed, however, to learn that some of their favorites like WR Santonio Holmes and new additions like WR Plaxico Burress weren't allowed to take part in the action.  This is because the collective bargaining agreement has not been finalized yet.

Here is an explanation from the Associated Press:

Re-establishing the union was a key step needed to finish a CBA after the main parts of the deal to end the NFL's 4 1-2-month lockout were agreed to by owners on July 21 and by players on Monday. Only a union can negotiate items such as drug testing, player conduct policy and disability and pension programs.

For the lockout to remain lifted and the season to proceed, those issues must be resolved and a full CBA completed by Thursday, a deadline both sides are confident will be met.

In March, when federally mediated talks in Washington between owners and players broke down and the old CBA expired, the NFLPA said it was dissolving itself as a union and instead becoming a trade association. That move allowed the players to sue the league under anti-trust law, and 10 did, including Tom BradyPeyton Manning and Drew Brees. That case was settled as part of the deal the sides have agreed to.

But by decertifying, the NFLPA gave up its right to bargain on behalf of all players under labour law. That's why the union needed to form again in order to complete a CBA.

Under the rules, Holmes, Burress and other former free agents like CB Antonio Cromartie, CB Donald Strickland, FS Eric Smith and RT Wayne Hunter can attend meetings but not practice.  Reportedly, ILB Bart Scott and OLBCalvin Pace restructured their contracts and consequently are not allowed to participate either, along with RBLaDainian Tomlinson who took a pay cut.  So if you're planning to be there at open practice at Florham Park, NJ tomorrow or Wednesday, be aware that you won't be seeing these guys play.

They'll have more time to sign autographs then.