Friday Notebook – July 29, 2011: Deals of the day and the week

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady talks to reporters after the morning practice session of their NFL training camp in Foxborough, Massachusetts July 29, 2011. REUTERS/Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

It has been a wild week in the NFL as the league tries to fit in five months of transactions in about two weeks. Undrafted free-agent players, usually just a footnote in team releases and web stories, were treated almost like unrestricted free-agent acquisitions by fans hungry for any information after the NFL resumed business on Tuesday.

Wednesday and Thursday was a different matter altogether. Trades were the big news, and there were several deals of note:

QB Donovan McNabb from Washington to Minnesota
RB Reggie Bush from New Orleans to Miami
DL Albert Haynesworth from Washington to New England
QB Kevin Kolb from Philadelphia to Arizona for CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
WR Chad Ochocinco from Cincinnati to New England

Any one of these deals would be big news on its own for a day, but five in the space of 48 hours blew the roof of sports-talk radio, internet and Twitter. It was exactly what the NFL needed in the wake of the lockout, and the traffic to NFL.com and NFL Network showed how much fans missed the game.

According to NFL Senior VP Greg Aiello on Twitter Friday, the league was up year-over-year on both platforms:

NFL Network viewers this week have more than tripled (up 211%) over this time last year. NFL.com traffic has more than doubled (up 121%).

And CNBC’s Sports Biz reporter Darren Rovell Tweeted on Friday afternoon:

NFL Network averaged 427K primetime viewers on Thursday, its best-ever primetime viewership other than NFL Draft or game coverage

That’s good news for both the NFL and NFLPA as the league’s “Back To Football” campaign hits full stride with the opening of camps.

Oh, and don’t forget, starting at 6 pm ET tonight will be the flood of unrestricted free agent signings. A great weekend for NFL fans with the doors finally open on training camps and games in less than two weeks time.

A LOOK INSIDE THE NEGOTIATING ROOM: As the ink dried on the new CBA agreement and the NFLPA went about the business of trying to re-certify, stories began to leak out about how the final process played out between the players and owners, and the quick-hit breakdown of winners and losers.

Leaving behind ugliness makes for beautiful ending (Mike Freeman, CBSSports.com; 7/25/11)
NFLPA chief gives inside look into negotiations (Kevin Blackistone, FOXSports.com; 7/25/11)
Can this NFL relationship be saved? (Gene Wojciechowski, ESPN.com; 7/28/11)
Fans among winners with lockout over and football back (Various writers, NFL.com; 7/26/11)
All is forgiven now that NFL lockout is ending (Mike Silver, Yahoo! Sports; 7/25/11)
An unsung hero in the league office (Peter King, SI.com; 7/27/11)

ON THE RADIO: I will have my weekly appearance on WNST 1570-AM in Baltimore at 5:30 pm ET today with host Rex Snider. After months of labor talk, it will be good to get back to football, on the field. You can listen live at www.wnst.net (or if you read this after, click here and search Pika for the audio of the interview).

Special thanks to ESPN Hawaii’s Josh Pacheco (@joshontheradio) for having me on this week in the wake of the CBA agreement. If you are with a radio station, and would like to have me on as a guest, leave a message below this post with your contact info (Comments do NOT automatically publish).

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