As the Vikings await word from Brett Favre on whether he will return for the 2010 season, they also must begin getting ready for a year that appears as if it will be played without a salary cap. That will be the case if no new collective bargaining agreement is reached here in the coming weeks and at this point that appears to be a long shot.

Teams actually gained some limited ability to begin shaping their rosters on Monday because as of that day they were allowed to start releasing players. The Vikings did not make any moves and in all honesty there is no real urgency.

There will be a few important dates coming up, including the annual NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. Here they are:

Feb. 11: First day that teams can designate franchise or tranisition players.

Feb. 15: Deadline for designating one additional transition player.

Feb. 24-March 2: NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

Feb. 25: Deadline for teams to designate franchise or transition players.

March 4: Deadline for clubs to exercise options for 2010 on all players who have option clauses in their 2009 contracts; expiration date of all player contracts set to expire after the 2009 season; deadline for teams to submit qualifying offers to restricted free agents whose contracts are expiring; deadline for clubs to submit minimum salary offers to exclusive rights free agents.

March 5: Free agency begins.

March 15: Offseason workouts can begin.

March 21-24: NFL Owners' meetings in Orlando.

March 22: 2010 compensatory draft picks announced.

Early April: Complete 2010 schedule is announced.

April 22-24: NFL draft. It's now a three-day event with the first-round being held in prime time on April 22. The second and third rounds will be April 23 and the final four rounds will be April 24.

May 24-26: NFL spring meeting in Dallas.