When that will be is anyone's guess, however, as an increasingly widening schism between the league's owners and players has threatened to delay the start of the 2011 season, if not wash it out altogether.
With the distribution of revenue between the two sides the core issue at the heart of the failure to negotiate a new Collective Bargaining Agreement following the conclusion of this past season, the owners instituted a lockout of the players on March 11, shortly after the NFL Player's Union decertified in anticipation of a legal battle.
A lawsuit filed by 10 players requesting an injunction to end the lockout will be heard in U.S. District Court in St. Paul, Minn., on April 6 in what may be only the first of a series of legal salvos.
"There hasn't been much surprise," Barden said of the series of events that led to the current impasse, which is the first work stoppage in the NFL since 1987. "We've been trying to work out a way to have football in 2011 for a while now, but as players we're taught to prepare for the worst and that's what we've all been doing.
"We know that there's some serious arguments on both sides, so it makes it a tough deal to come to a conclusion."
The turmoil is only now getting to the point where it would directly affect individual players' and teams' coordinated preparation for the season, if indeed there is to be one. According to the non lockout-related "dead" period rule outlined in the former Collective Bargaining Agreement, players are not permitted to participate in meetings of any kind before the offseason program begins, usually around March 15.
But now, with the lockout prohibiting indefinitely any contact between players and coaches or organizations, Barden and his colleagues are left in limbo.