Nearly five months after the NFLPA decertified their union and owners instituted a lockout, the players today voted to ratify the new CBA which promises 10 years of labor peace. With this news, the 2011 league year has officially begun, and players with new contracts like returning Broncos Brian Dawkins and Marcus Thomas and new acquisitions Ty Warren, Willis McGahee, and Derrick Harvey are finally eligible to practice.
The two sides had been negotiating the remaining issues of the CBA for several days, and most interestingly it's being reported that the league will institute HGH testing. According to Judy Battista, the plan is to begin annual random testing by Week 1 of the regular season, and it will make the NFL the first North American sports league to do so with the consent of the players' union.
Meanwhile, there have been some slight changes to the disciplinary process, as there is likely to be an independent arbitrator for drug suspension appeals, and fines and suspensions for on-field infractions will be doled out by Ray Anderson and Merton Hanks, with Ted Cottrell and Art Shell handling appeals.
In Broncos-specific news, the team waived CB Chevis Jackson to make room for DT Ty Warren. Denver had claimed Jackson off waivers from the Pats last December and was due to make $600K this season.