The NFL lockout still isn't over, but some important news came down Thursday that will allow players to return to business as usual beginning Friday morning at 7 a.m. following Thursday night's first round of the NFL draft.
The players can return to business as usual, but the front offices will have to continue to sit on their hands until a date is decided for the official beginning of the 2011 League Year (which should be sooner rather than later). Until then, no transactions -- signings, trades of player contracts, terminations, tryouts, etc. -- can be made.
Regardless, this seems to be inching fans closer toward the goal of having the 2011 NFL season begin on time considering the players are now allowed to do the following things (as summarized by SB Nation's Joel Thorman):
-Players will be allowed in the building for physicals, rehab and other medical treatment.
-Teams can hand out playbooks and game film to the players.
-Coaches can meet with players to discuss the playbooks, game film and the offseason schedule.
-Voluntary offseason workouts can begin and players will be eligible for workout bonuses in their contracts.
-On non-workout days, players can use the facility to work out on their own.
-Mandatory and voluntary minicamps can begin.
-Those in the NFL's substance abuse or steroid programs can begin receiving counseling, rehab and treatment.
-Players can begin participating in team-sponsored charitable events.
So while the NFL lockout isn't quite over, it does appear to be coming closer to an end.