The NFL and the Players Association have made enough progress over the weekend that it appears an end to the lockout is in sight. Again. For real this time.
Albert Breer of NFL Network, amongst others, has reported that late Saturday night, after a day of conference call negotiations, the sides appear to have worked out several points. So much so, that the NFLPA has scheduled a Monday meeting for it's executive committee to finally vote on the CBA. The 13-man committee is expected to approve the terms, which would trigger the next step in the process.The theme of these CBA negotiations, with a caveat that things could still fall apart, still applies.
Several reports, including this one from ESPN's John Clayton and Chris Mortensen, state that Saturday's compromises will allow players from some teams into facilities this Wednesday in order to vote on union re-certification. The remaining teams would open their doors by Friday for polling, with hopes enough votes would be collected. '50 percent plus one' of the roughly 1900 NFL players would have to approve the union being formed again. The step is necessary for an end to the lockout, as only a union can negotiate benefits packages, drug testing and player discipline. Those points are said to already be unofficially agreed upon.
Teams would theoretically be allowed to negotiate with their own free agents and draft picks starting Wednesday, under the proposed recert schedule, and sign them as of 2pm Saturday. Teams would also be allowed to renegotiate with players currently under contract. NFL Network's Jason LaConfora reports training camps and free agency could open simultaneously. That would set the talent acquiring time machine on Wild Wild West mode, with an activation date as early as Friday. Teams would be able to
sign players to the deals already worked out with their agents, negotiate with other team's free agents at this point, in an effort to reach the roster requirement of 90 players.
You may be worried about this being yet another schedule that won't be adhered to. You may find solace in the fact that the NFL agreed to this schedule, one proposed by the players.
On Thursday, the initial reports that the owners had approved a CBA by vote of 31-0 were making the rounds as if a deal between the two sides had been reached. It then surfaced that owners had filled in several points still up for negotiation for the purpose of their vote, something the players took offense to. The owners also produced a set date by which the union would have recertify; requiring it to take place by Tuesday. This was another act the players were not fond of. The owner-produced schedule would have had league doors opening Saturday. Instead, those points the owners had filled in were worked on by the two parties.
Also on Saturday, it was learned that the settlement concessions being asked for by some members of the Brady vs NFL lawsuit would be dropped in the interest of opening the league year. The 10 plaintiffs would be required to inform the courts of their decision to no longer seek a judgment.
From NFL.com: The major economic framework for a 10-year deal was worked out a week ago. That included how the $9 billion-plus in annual league revenues will be divided (about 53 percent to owners and 47 percent to players over the next decade; the old CBA resulted in nearly a 50-50 split); a per-club cap of about $120 million for salary and bonuses in 2011 -- and at least that in 2012 and 2013 -- plus about $22 million in benefits; a salary system to rein in spending on first-round draft picks; and unrestricted free agency for most players after four seasons.
According to the reports, if this schedule is kept, no preseason games will be missed. We are awaiting word from the Cowboys on the location of their training camp, as it is still undecided whether they will head down to San Antonio or stay at Valley Ranch.