Here's a quick 5-point summary of what the new Collective-Bargaining-Agreement means for the NFL over its 10 year term:
Free Agency A player must have 4 years of experience to become an Unrestriced Free Agent (in comparison to 6). Players with 3 years of experience are eligible for Restricted Free Agency.
Salary Cap The team salary cap is now $120.375 million. Teams must be at a minimum of 89% ($107.1 million) to that cap figure each year. In 2012, each team has the right to use a $1.5 million transition exemption on 3 players in lei of the large adjustment in cap from previous years.
Rookie Wage Scale The new scale cuts rookie wages by more than 50%. First Round draft picks will get 4 year contracts, with a 5th year team option. Draft picks in rounds 2-7 have slotted 4 year contracts. The 5th year option salary is determined by the average salary of the top 10 players of that position. Any draft pick who holds out prior to signing will lose all leverage. Any draft pick who holds out after signing will no longer have the opportunity to re-negotiate during the duration of the deal.