NFL Lockout: Players Vote Unanimously to Approve New CBA, Lockout Over

Cleveland Browns could report to training camp by Friday.

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NFL Lockout: Roger Goodell, DeMaurice Smith Lead Owners and Players to 10 Year Labor Deal

NFL Fans have not had any sense of normalcy in terms of football since the Super Bowl, and even then, the lockout loomed large. Even during the draft, fans were thinking about why their teams couldn’t make trades, how they would fill holes through free agency, among many other concerns.

Now, on the dawn of NFL training camps, the owners and players have agreed to a deal, and in front of the media as a collective, Roger Goodell only needed to say three words to get fans excited and moving on from all of this legal talk:

“Football is back”

Football is back, indeed, and now it’s time to focus on what happens on the field. A record amount of transactions are expected, and players can report to team facilities on Wednesday.

Undrafted free agents and rookie signings are open starting Tuesday, so buckle in NFL fans, because it’s going to be a wild ride!

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NFLPA Unanimously Agrees To New 10-Year CBA Proposal Ending NFL Lockout

Never have two words meant so much.  With just two words, or in Twitter-lingo 15 characters, NFLPA spokesman George Atallah give the status of the vote by the 32 team representatives of the NFLPA:

 

The NFLPA Executive Council, along with the Player Reps all voted in favor of the 10-year CBA proposal ending the Lockout.  A couple more formalities do remain - all players need to vote on the proposal and the plaintiffs in the Brady V. NFL anti-trust case need to sign off - but all looks to be in line for National Football League to open it's doors on Tuesday.

Congratulations to everyone involved in getting this done. It took longer than expected, and even one game lost - the Hall of Fame Game, no less - is one too many, but there will be football, starting as early as Wednesday, with the Cleveland Browns expected to start Training Camp on Friday!

Christmas in July indeed!

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NFL Lockout: Players Vote Unanimously to Ratify CBA, Lockout Over

The day of jubilation is here, football fans—the NFL lockout is all but officially over. In fact, Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith are meeting the press shortly.

DeMaurice Smith and the NFLPA just approached the media announcing they had recommended the approval of the deal, and he re-affirmed that the vote was unanimous.

With this vote, the proposal now goes to the 10 plaintiffs in the “Brady” case, and Albert Breer of NFL Network has reported that they have already agreed to ratify the CBA, so all that is left is taking it to the courts to make it official, as well as the re-unionization of the NFLPA as soon as possible.

Reports of training camp dates starting already on Wednesday should come to fruition, and football should be back as we know it. As of right now, there is only one other question to ask:

Are you ready for some football?

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NFL Free Agency Rules: Cleveland Browns Getting Ready

Time for the latest and greatest NFL Free Agency timeline as it appears more and more likely that the 130 day-old lockout is about to come to an end.  This is fresh from my TV screen and NFL Network:

 

  • Tuesday, July 26 - Team Voluntary Conditioning
  • Tuesday, July 26, 10:00AM et - Drafted and Undrafted Rookies can sign
  • Thursday, July 28 - Players can be cut or waived by their teams
  • Friday, July 29 - Training Camps for 30 teams (including Browns) can start
  • Friday, July 29, 6:00PM et - Free Agency Opens
  • Sunday, July 31 - Jets and Texans begin Training Camp
While not officially, official, this seems to be the timeframe that everyone is pointing towards.  Now the question will become who - if anyone - will the Cleveland Browns target once the doors open and teams can begin to sign free agents.  While no signings can happen until Friday, it is assumed that teams and agents can begin to talk on Tuesday.
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Cleveland Browns Training Camp 2011: Browns Could Start Camp Friday

With it looking more and more certain that the 130 Day-long NFL Lockout will come to an end this afternoon, word is beginning to come down of when teams will report for Training Camp.  For the Cleveland Browns it is looking more and more like that day could be Friday, July 29.

 

Matt Pomeroy is the head of Research for NFL Network, so he is as plugged in as it gets.  What the schedule will be for the public remains to be seen.  The day above could be when workouts start or it could be when players have to report.  We all will find out soon enough.

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NFL Lockout Timeline: Cleveland Browns Could Begin To Talk To Free Agents Tonight

Are you ready for some football?  The NFL and NFLPA have agreed to terms on a new 10-year Collective Bargaining Agreement, with only a vote of the players left to make the deal official.  According to several sources on both sides the vote is a mere formality at this point, with no deal ever voted down by players once agreed to by their leadership.

The next question is, of course, what's next?  While there have been a few different versions of the timeline for the NFL to roll back into business it seems that teams can begin talking to players as soon as Tuesday morning.

Here is what we know so far:

 

  • There will be no grace period for teams to try and resign their own free agents.  It is going to be true free agency once the doors do open.
  • Trades and free agent discussions can start tomorrow, but deals cannot become official until Friday at 6:00PM.
  • Teams can begin to sign their draft picks and undrafted free agents on Tuesday.

 

Teams have been preparing for this for months.  The teams that are most prepared could hit a home run this season.  Cleveland Browns President Mike Holmgren is known for being prepared.  Can the Browns take a gigantic leap on the back of the NFL Lockout?

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Both Sides In Labor Dispute Reach Agreement; Player Vote Only Hurdle To End Of Lockout

The NFL lockout should be about to end as the owners and the Players' Association have resolved their remaining issues and are ready to send their agreement to the players to vote on, according to this report via Cleveland.com

ESPN.com also reports on the story here.

Sources say that the players' vote is a mere formality. In other words, the vote will undoubtedly be to accept the terms for a new 10-year contract.

If this comes through with no hitches, there will be training camps by next weekend, and August can be spent getting ready for some football, instead of watching people with suits and briefcases parading up and down steps.

The ESPN report included these salient points:

Despite the fact the new agreement will require a majority vote from the players, that part of the deal between the two sides is considered a formality, according to sources.

The NFLPA is making plans for a major press conference Monday. But first the player reps' executive committee is scheduled to fly to Washington, D.C., on Sunday so they can vote Monday.

Just as the NFL would not have called a vote Thursday in Atlanta without knowing it would pass in the way it did -- 31-0 with one abstention -- the NFLPA would also not be going forward without that assurance.

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Sources Say That An Agreement Will Be Reached On Monday

Yahoo! Sports is reporting that the NFL lockout is likely to end on Monday, citing sources who say that the NFLPA will meet Monday and will likely vote to accept the new deal.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Players' Association executive director DeMaurice Smith were said to have settled their last remaining issues, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen.

According to the Yahoo! article by Jason Cole:

"In keeping with the proposal the league laid out on Thursday night, the NFL is also expected to work out a three-day window for teams to sign their draft picks and re-sign veteran free agents who were on their team last year, although the contracts wouldn’t be official until the NFLPA became a union again. In addition, teams will be able to talk to all veteran free agents and undrafted rookies, though deals could not be struck until after the aforementioned three-day window."

Tempers had flared earlier in the weekend over how owners handled negotiations in the home-stretch, but those tempers have cooled. There was talk for a while that the players would hold off long enough to force the league to have to cancel the first regular week or more of preseason games.

But you know what folks? Even with assurances, and metaphorical thumbs-up -- let's wait and see if this will indeed be the end of this long wait to get football season under way.

Even if it is too late for Canton to have a game this season.

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Hall Of Fame Game Is A No-Go As NFL Cancels Canton's Contest

According to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and via cleveland.com, the Hall of Fame Game, scheduled for August 7, has been canceled.

All other activities associated with the game will go on as planned, but the contest between the St. Louis Rams and the Chicago Bears will not take place, even should the lockout end in the next day or so.

"We feel that it's important for all 32 teams to be operating with the same number of preseason games and also starting camp at the same date or near the same date," Goodell said. "Unfortunately, we will not be there to play the game this year, but of course the (induction) ceremonies will go on. Hopefully we can all work quickly, expeditiously and get this agreement done."

Obviously this is a setback for Canton. Hopefully the Browns can give something in the way of practices or scrimmages to the Hall of Fame city.

The Hall of Fame, in a statement, said that "obviously, the loss of the game will have a significant adverse economic impact on the Hall of Fame and the Canton community."

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NFL Lockout: Owners Agree To Comprehensive Plan To End Lockout

NFL clubs approved today the terms of a comprehensive settlement of litigation and a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Players Association.

The vote was taken at a league meeting in Atlanta where the clubs were briefed on the terms of the agreement and the rules for the transition into the new League Year. The agreement must be ratified by the NFL Players Association in order for the league year to begin.

"We are pleased to announce that our clubs have approved the terms of a long-term negotiated agreement with the NFL players," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. "It includes many positive changes that emerged from a spirit of compromise rooted in doing what is best for the game and players. DeMaurice Smith and his team, and the players and owners involved in the negotiations, deserve great credit for their skill and professionalism. If approved by the players, this agreement will allow the league and its players to continue to benefit from the NFL's popularity and will afford a unique opportunity to deliver to fans an even better, safer, and more competitive game in the future.

"On behalf of the NFL, our teams and players, I want to express our deep appreciation to Chief Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan. Judge Boylan was the court-appointed mediator, but his contributions far exceeded that role. His patience, determination, and commitment helped keep everyone focused on the goal, and helped lead us to today's announcement." 

The NFL announced that players can begin voluntary workouts at club facilities on July 23 if the NFLPA Executive Board approves the settlement terms. Following the reconstitution of the NFLPA as a union and approval of the new CBA by the NFLPA membership, the League Year and free agency signings will start at 2:00 PM ET on July 27 and training camps for all teams will open on July 27. Day one activities will be limited to physicals, meetings, and conditioning. Players will practice without pads on days two and three.

As part of the transition rules for the 2011 League Year, the parties have agreed that the CBA's specified deadlines for certain free agency contract tenders will be delayed to the dates indicated below. For example, the deadline for the CBA's "June 1 Tender" to Unrestricted Free Agents will be changed from June 1 to August 12. 

Following are key dates on the revised 2011 League Calendar, contingent upon ratification of the agreement by the players prior to these dates:

JULY

July 23                     Voluntary training, conditioning and classroom instruction permitted until first day of clubs' preseason training camps.

July 23                     Pre-2011 League Year Period commences. 2011 Free Agency List to be issued and will become effective on the first day of the 2011 League Year (July 27). Clubs/players may begin to renegotiate contracts. Clubs may begin to sign Drafted Rookies and their own UFAs, RFAs, Exclusive Rights Players and Franchise Players.

July 23                     Waivers begin for the 2011 League Year.

July 23                     Starting at 2:00 PM ET, clubs may negotiate with, but not sign, Undrafted Rookie Free Agents, free agents, and other clubs' UFAs, RFAs, and Franchise Players.

July 24                     Starting at 2:00 PM ET, clubs may begin to sign undrafted rookie free agents.

July 27                     2011 League Year commences at 2:00 PM ET, provided NFLPA has ratified CBA. Free Agency Signing Period begins. Clubs may sign free agents and other clubs' Unrestricted Free Agents. Clubs may sign Offer Sheets. Trading period begins. All Clubs must be under the Salary Cap. Top 51 rule applies.

July 27                     Expand rosters to 90-man limit.

July 27                     Training Camps open for all clubs, provided NFLPA has ratified CBA. Day One activities limited to physicals, meetings, and conditioning. No pads permitted on Day Two or Day Three.

AUGUST

August 9                   Deadline for players under contract to report to their clubs to earn an Accrued Season for free agency.

August 11-15            First Preseason Weekend

August 12                 Deadline for signing of Offer Sheets by Restricted Free Agents.

                                 (17-day period concludes)

August 12                 Deadline for June 1 Tender to Unrestricted Free Agents. If the player has not signed a Player Contract with a Club by August 26, he may negotiate or sign a Player Contract from August 26 until the Tuesday following the tenth week of the regular season, at 4:00 PM ET, only with his Prior Club.

August 12                 Deadline: if a Drafted Rookie has not signed a Player Contract by this date, he cannot be traded during his initial League Year and may sign a Player Contract only with the drafting Club until the day of the Draft in the next League Year.

August 13-17            Each Club has until five days prior to its second preseason game to provide any tendered but unsigned Exclusive Rights Player or Restricted Free Agent with written notice of the Club's intent to place the player on the Exempt List if the player fails to report at least the day before the Club's second preseason game.

August 16                 Deadline for Prior Club to exercise Right of First Refusal to Restricted Free Agents.

                                 (Four-day matching period conlcudes)

August 17                 Deadline for June 1 Tender to Restricted Free Agents who have received a Qualifying Offer for a Right of First Refusal Only. 

August 18-22            Second Preseason Weekend.

August 25-28            Third Preseason Weekend.

August 26                 Signing Period ends for Unrestricted Free Agents who received the June 1 Tender.

August 29                 Deadline for June 15 Tender to Restricted Free Agents. If player's Qualifying Offer is greater than 110% of the player's prior year's Paragraph 5 Salary (with all other terms of his prior year contract carried forward unchanged), the Club may withdraw the Qualifying Offer on August 29 and retain its exclusive negotiating rights to the player, so long as the Club immediately tenders the player a one-year Player Contract of at least 110% of his prior year's Paragraph 5 Salary, with all the terms of his prior year's contract carried forward unchanged.

August 30                 Clubs reduce rosters from 90 players to 75 players.

SEPTEMBER

September 1-2         Fourth Preseason Weekend.

September 3            Clubs reduce rosters to 53 players.

September 8-12       First Regular-Season Weekend.

September 18-19     Second Regular-Season Weekend

September 20          Deadline at 4:00 PM ET for any Club that designated a Franchise Player to sign such player to a multi-year contract or extension. 

If approved by the players, the new collective bargaining agreement will include the following key terms:

TERM:

  • The fixed term of the agreement covers the 2011 through 2020 seasons and includes the 2021 draft.

PLAYER HEALTH AND SAFETY:

  • Immediate implementation of changes to promote player health and safety by:

o   Reducing the off-season program by five weeks, reducing OTAs from 14 to 10;

o   Limiting on-field practice time and contact;

o   Limiting full-contact practices in the preseason and regular season;

o   Increasing number of days off for players.

  • Opportunity for current players to remain in the player medical plan for life.
  • An enhanced injury protection benefit of up to $1 million of a player's salary for the contract year after his injury and up to$500,000 in the second year after his injury.
  • No change to the 16-4 season format until at least 2013; any subsequent increase in the number of regular-season games must be made by agreement with the NFL Players Association.
  • $50 million per year joint fund for medical research, healthcare programs, and NFL Charities, including NFLPA-related charities.

RETIRED PLAYER BENEFITS:

  • Over the next 10 years, additional funding for retiree benefits of between $900 million and $1 billion. The largest single amount, $620 million, will be used for a new "Legacy Fund," which will be devoted to increasing pensions for pre-1993 retirees.
  • Other improvements will be made to post-career medical options, the disability plan, the 88 Plan, career transition and degree completion programs, and the Player Care Plan.

DRAFT/FREE AGENCY SYSTEM:

  • An annual Draft of seven rounds plus compensatory picks for teams which lose free agents.
  • Unrestricted free agency for players after four accrued seasons; restricted free agency for players with three accrued seasons.
  • Free agency exceptions (franchise and transition players).

ENTRY LEVEL COMPENSATION SYSTEM:

  • New entry-level compensation system including the following elements:

o   All drafted players sign four-year contracts.

o   Undrafted free agents sign three-year contracts.

o   Maximum total compensation per draft class.

o   Limited contract terms.

o   Strong anti-holdout rules.

o   Clubs have option to extend the contract of a first-round draftee for a fifth year, based on agreed-upon tender amounts.

  • Creation of new fund to redistribute, beginning in 2012, savings from new rookie pay system to current and retired player benefits and a veteran player performance pool.

ECONOMICS:

  • Salary cap plus benefits of $142.4 million per club in 2011 ($120.375 million for salary and bonus) and at least that amount in 2012 and 2013.
  • Beginning in 2012, salary cap to be set based on a combined share of "all revenue," a new model differentiated by revenue source with no expense reductions. Players will receive 55 percent of national media revenue, 45 percent of NFL Ventures revenue, and 40 percent of local club revenue.
  • Beginning in 2012, annual "true up" to reflect revenue increasesor decreases versus projections.
  • Clubs receive credit for actual stadium investment and up to 1.5 percent of revenue each year.
  • Player share must average at least 47 percent for the 10-year term of the agreement.
  • League-wide commitment to cash spending of 99 percent of the cap in 2011 and 2012.
  • For the 2013-2016 seasons, and again for the 2017-2020 seasons, the clubs collectively will commit to cash spending of at least 95 percent of the cap.
  • Each club committed to cash spending of 89 percent of the cap from 2013-2016 and 2017-2020.
  • Increases to minimum salaries of 10 percent in Year 1 with continuing increases each year of the agreement.

2011-2012 TRANSITION RULES:

  • Special transition rules to protect veteran players in 2011. All teams will have approximately $3.5 million in what would otherwise be performance-based pay available to fund veteran player salaries.
  • Each club may "borrow" up to $3 million in cap room from a future year, which may be used to support veteran player costs.
  • In 2012, each club may "borrow" up to $1.5 million in cap room from a future year. Both these amounts would be repaid in future years.

OTHER:

  • No judicial oversight of the agreement. Neutral arbitrators jointly appointed by the NFL and NFLPA will resolve disputes as appropriate.
  • Settlement of all pending litigation.
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It Is Now Up To NFL Players As Owners Vote To End Deadlock

Yahoo Sports is announcing that the NFL owners have voted to accept the CBA proposal.

Now it is up to the NFL players to also vote to approve, and the lockout can end -- hopefully in time to save the Hall of Fame Game in Canton on August 7.

Players are said to be having a meeting later on Thursday to discuss the matter.

Let's vote tonight and get this done players!

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NFL.com Says That Owners Are Voting Whether To End Lockout; 24 'Yes' Votes Needed, Plus Player Vote

According to NFL.com, NFL owners are voting as of Thursday evening to end the lockout that is now seriously threatening the Hall of Fame Game in Canton between the Rams and the Bears on August 7.

"I'm optimistic that we'll get a call for a vote today, and I'm optimistic that the ownership will approve a deal today,"  Arthur Blank, the Atlanta Falcons' owner, said just before the start of the meeting to review the potential deal and how it would work. "Whether or not the players will have approved it before we vote, I'm not sure."

The owners would have to vote at least 24-8 to okay any deal.

Meanwhile, DeMaurice Smith, NFL Players Association executive director, hinted that recertifying the union was not imminent and that the players were not close to voting.

"I certainly remember comments from some of the owners about how we may not even be a real union," Smith said. "Well, guess what? The decision to decertify was important because at the time we were a real union. And the decision for our players, as men, to come back as a union is going to be an equally serious and sober one that they have to make."

We will update as soon as more news is announced.

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NFL Lockout: Players Leave Meeting Without Voting On CBA; Owners Meet Thursday

Another day, another reported deadline missed as NFL Players Association representatives failed to vote on a proposed CBA on Wednesday during their meeting in Washington, D.C.  WIth NFL Owners meeting in Atlanta on Thursday - with voting on the CBA on their agenda - we are once again left in the dark on if, and when, the 129-day NFL Lockout will come to an end.

"I know everyone wants to be an expert and say they know exactly what's going on behind closed doors and when this is going to happen," NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith told ESPN on Wednesday night. "Both sides know where they stand. Both sides continue to work very intensively, as we have for several weeks. I'm not into the prediction business and I'm not about to get into details, but their side knows what our deal is and, again, we know where they stand."

While both sides continue to remain optimistic, it is becoming increasingly doubtful that the Hall of Fame Game, scheduled for August 7 in Canton, can be played.

Jeff Pash, general counsel for the NFL was asked about whether the game could be played, "We'll see. It's getting tight. It would be pretty challenging. That's one of the things we'll have to focus on."

It's just the latest plot twist in a movie that ends with football in 2011.  

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NFL Lockout 2011: How Does Lockout Affect Terrelle Pryor's NFL Prospects?

As the end of the lockout grows nearer and nearer by the hour, NFL fans are preparing themselves for a very active time of free agency, trades, and offseason workouts. However, a couple of players are being left in limbo as everything currently stands. Former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor is among a couple of players who have declared they would be eligible for the NFL’s supplemental draft process, one which no one has really any idea of when it could or will happen.

A few attempts to get in touch with the “experts” have failed, so the picture is still not clear as to when a supplemental draft could take place. Obviously, that is not of paramount importance to the league right now, and it will likely be taken care of sooner rather than later.

Still, it has to be annoying for a guy like Pryor who has no idea what his future holds. If there is no supplemental draft, does he become a free agent? It’s all a very muddled process right now, but there should be some clarity when a new CBA is reached, and that deal could come in the next couple of days.

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NFL Lockout: NFL, NFLPA Looking For Global Settlement Of Pending Litigation

The clock is ticking. If the NFL is going to get the preseason started on time, the owners and players need to get going on a new CBA and get the Lockout lifted.  For that to happen, there are some major loose ends to resolve.  In an effort to get those tied up, the NFL and NFLPA are trying to reach a 'Global Agreement' to resolve all pending issues.

The biggest - a resolution of the Brady Vs. NFL antitrust lawsuit, the TV Lockout Insurance case as well as a lawsuit by retired players - would all be part of the accord, something that NEEDS to happen if a new CBA is to be reached.  The NFLPA woould need to re-certify as a Union in order to represent the players and ratify a deal.  For that to happen, the pending litigation above would need to be settled.

If there is a breakdown at this point,it could be a bad sign for the preseason, and if any games are lost it would take a big bite out of the NFL's revenue stream.

Staying positive, however, the NFL sent a letter to all 32 teams advising them that all key executives should attend Thursday's owners meetings in Atlanta.  That indicates the League is expecting to ratify a new CBA, a day after the NFLPA could ratify a deal at their Executive Board meeting in Washington D.C.

Stay Tuned!

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NFL Lockout: Your Very Tentative Post-Lockout and Free Agency Plan

It sounds as though owners and players will once again meet for some mediation sessions on Monday and Tuesday of this coming week in order to iron out some of the "smaller" but very large impending issues that still stand in the way of getting the NFL lockout resolved. Since that is the case, you can slightly temper your enthusiasm that the lockout will be over sooner rather than later.

Right now, there is a 10 year labor deal that is very, very near completion, a deal that would give NFL fans the following post-lockout and free agency plan.

  1. Owners and Players mediate with judge Arthur Boylan on Monday and Tuesday, with a deal likely coming sometime on Tuesday.
  2. Players re-certify as a union on Wednesday, and vote to ratify the lockout
  3. Owners vote on the lockout on Thursday
  4. Teams are allowed a 72 hour period on Friday, July 22nd to re-sign their own free agents as well as undrafted rookies.
  5. Free agency/trading period opens on July 25th for all unrestricted and restricted free agents
Shortly after this, training camp for most all teams will begin. The date of a supplemental draft still has yet to be set, and it remains to be seen whether or not the league will actually have one. For now, though, the Hall of Fame game is still in place, and it seems as though business could be back to normal if this process plays out as it does above. 

Is it too simple to get done? We will soon find out.

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NFL Lockout: Issues Fall One By One As Resolution Seems Imminent

If the NFL Lockout, now well past 125 days, were a football game, we’d be late in the 4th quarter. With both sides bending on key issues over the past couple of days, the NFL Owners and Players seem on the cusp of reaching a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

On Wednesday, the two sides agreed on the rookie wage scale and the salary cap for the 2011 season. A third issue, the owners desire to place the Right of First Refusal on 2011 free agents was seen as the last major obstacle. With players being granted free agency after four years, owners wanted some protection this year with well over 500 players set to hit the open market. The RoFR would give them that. The players, however, felt it would limit them and hurt their market value.

On Friday, the owners dropped the demand after it was agreed that once the new CBA was ratified and the Lockout lifted, the teams would have 72 hours to sign their own free agents. In essence, the last major hurdle was removed.

There are still issues to wrap up, and the retired players are still fighting for a seat at the table, but you get the sense that, now, with a deal so close, and fans getting less and less patient with the proceedings, that no side is going to wnat to put the breaks on the progress.

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NFL Lockout Update: Both Sides Storming Toward Settlement; Rookie Wage Scale, Salary Cap in Place

Almost one-third of the year 2011 has gone by, and finally the NFL and NFLPA are closing in on a settlement, and the NFL just might be back sooner than we know it.

Adam Schefter of ESPN is reporting that both sides have agreed in principle to a rookie wage scale, and that a salary cap of $120 million has bee agreed upon as well.

The sudden progress is being called “unforeseen momentum” and talks are headed in the best direction that they have been all Summer long. Sources have also notified ESPN that any loss of momentum to a deal is unlikely because there is finally a sense of urgency in the talks.

Teams need this deal to get done soon, mainly because training camp is set to open in two weeks, and if a deal could get done there would be a decent enough amount of time to sign free agents, and possibly have a short mini-camp.

This is about as good of news as NFL fans could expect.

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NFL Lockout Update: Circuit Court Says Lockout Is Legal

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court has sided with the owners and ruled that the NFL lockout is legal, according to this story via NFL.com.

The ruling vacates the April 25 decision of U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson that the lockout should be lifted, and said that Judge Nelson had ignored federal law in arriving at her decision.

"While we respect the court's decision, today's ruling does not change our mutual recognition that this matter must be resolved through negotiation," the league and NFLPA said in a joint statement. "We are committed to our current discussions and reaching a fair agreement that will benefit all parties for years to come, and allow for a full 2011 season."

Judges Stephen Colloton and Duane Benton ruled in favor of ownership, while Kermit Bye came down on the side of the players.

"The league and the players' union were parties to a collective bargaining agreement for almost eighteen years prior to March 2011," the appeals court said in its 2-1 decision. "They were engaged in collective bargaining over terms and conditions of employment for approximately two years ... Then, on a single day, just hours before the CBA's expiration, the union discontinued collective bargaining and disclaimed its status ... Whatever the effect of the union's disclaimer on the league's immunity from antitrust liability, the labor dispute did not suddenly disappear just because the players elected to pursue the dispute through antitrust litigation rather than collective bargaining."

Meanwhile talks are going on between the players and the owners, but as of Thursday, those talks were -- according to NFL Network's Albert Breer  -- "very difficult".

Several training camps are due to open in a couple of weeks, and of course the Hall of Fame game is scheduled for Canton, Ohio, in just 30 days.

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NFL Lockout: From Whence Will Come Resolution?

SB Nation's Charlie Wilmoth has taken a look at some scenarios for a resolution to the ongoing lockout in the NFL, which is now seriously jeopardizing the beginning of the season and especially the exhibition season, which is supposed to begin with the Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio between the Chicago Bears and the St.Louis Rams on August 7.

In his story, Wilmoth contends that an agreement might come from either the bargaining table or in the courtroom.

However, there is a sticking point which has just come up, and that is a class-action complaint brought by former NFL players.

Via SB Nation writer Shaun Al-Shatti's story on this issue:

The complaint says that the current players and the association, with the N.F.L., "are conspiring to depress the amounts of pension and disability benefits to be paid to former N.F.L. players in order to maximize the salaries and benefits to current N.F.L. players."

With exhibition season due to begin in 32 days, we will see how this latest fly in the ointment will impact getting the 2011 season salvaged and started

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NFL Lockout Over: NFL Informs Teams That Operations Will Begin Friday

Josh Cribbs will be happy.  The National Football League sent notice to it's teams, including the Cleveland Browns, that league operations will lurch back to life on Friday after a series of courtroom defeats have forced their hand.  The NFL, in a letter to teams, said most league-wide activities will begin at 8AM on Friday morning with further instructions involving player transactions will come later in the day.

What does that mean?

 

  • Players will be permitted to use club facilities for physical examinations, rehabilitation and medical treatment, as scheduled by the club.
  • Clubs will be permitted to distribute playbooks, game film and other similar materials to players. 
  • Coaches may meet with players for the purpose of discussing any materials distributed to players under item 2 above, as well as the club's off-season workout program, its schedule of mini-camps, Organized Team Activities ("OTAs"), and other similar matters.
  • Voluntary off-season workout programs, including OTAs and classroom instruction, may begin subject to the rules in Article XXXV of the 2006 CBA and Appendix L.  Participating players will be paid $130 per day, provided the player fulfills the club's reasonable off-season workout requirements.  Such workouts will count toward the requirements of any off-season workout bonus in the player's contract.
  • On days during which no official off-season workouts or OTAs are scheduled under item 4 above, nothing shall prevent the club from permitting any player to use the club facility to work out on his own on a voluntary, unpaid basis during normal business hours, or such other hours as may be set by the club, provided: (i) there is no participation or supervision by any coach, trainer or other club personnel; and (ii) the club has first verified that the player has an existing medical insurance policy in place.  Players without such personal coverage should not be permitted to work out at the club facility on an unsupervised basis under this item 5, but may do so under item 4 above.  Unsupervised workouts will not count toward the requirements of any off-season workout bonus in the player's contract.  This item 5 will apply both prior to and after the commencement of the club's official off-season workout program.
  • Mandatory and voluntary mini-camps may begin subject to the rules in Article XXXVI of the 2006 CBA.
  • The league office will promptly make arrangements to resume counseling, rehabilitation and treatment activities in connection with the substances of abuse and steroid programs.  We will advise clubs as to when and on what basis testing will commence.
  • Players may participate in club-sponsored charitable and community relations events.
There is a caveat, however.  The NFL is still awaiting word from the 8th District Court of Appeals to see if they overrule Judge Nelson's decision regarding the Lockout and the stay.  If the court overturns Judge Nelson's ruling, we'll be back at square one.
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NFL Lockout 2011: Browns Players Visit To Facility Short Lived

As expected, several Cleveland Browns players showed up at the team’s headquarters this morning though their stay was a short one. Josh Cribbs and Ben Watson were among the players that arrived this morning. They left shortly thereafter, having received a letter from the team suggesting they shouldn’t work out.

That said, the players were treated kindly according to Mary Kay Cabot. The same story is being repeated all over the National Football League Tuesday morning as players react to Federal Judge Susan Nelson’s ruling that the NFL-imposed lockout was illegal. She will hear arguments tomorrow regarding a stay in her decision while the NFL appeals.

Most think she will not grant the stay, leading to chaos until the appeal is hear. Can teams sign free agents? Can players be traded? What will happen on Thursday night in the draft? All of these questions would need answers, and there is a little over 48 hours left to answer them.

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NFL Lockout Lifted: Scott Fujita, Josh Cribbs Among Cleveland Browns Returning To Work

According to Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, he, and several other Cleveland Browns players will report for work in Berea Tuesday morning at 10AM on the heels of a federal judge granting the NFL Players' request for an injunction against the NFL's lockout.  According to Will Burge of ESPNCleveland.com, Fujita - who also serves on the NFLPA's Executive Committee - is recommending that his Browns teammates report to the team facility on Tuesday, and in the future, unless and until Judge Susan Nelson grants the NFL a stay in her injunction decision.

The NFL has appealed Nelson's decision, and it remains to be seen if a stay will be granted, allowing the Lockout to continue until the Appeal is heard by the 8th Circuit Appellate Court.  If a stay is not granted, the NFL would be open for business, including trades and free agency.  The NFL is waiting for a ruling on the stay request before beginning the new NFL calendar year.

As for the NFL, their PR voice Greg Aiello has said, "If a player comes to the facility, he will be treated courteously and with respect."  In reality, the NFL has little choice.

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Report: Judge Susan Nelson Rules In Favor of Players; Injunction Granted

Judge Susan Nelson was appointed to the NFL vs. “NFLPA” case, and DeMaurice Smith’s original thought that the players had a good chance of winning the legal battle has proven—thus far, at least—to be correct.

In what was described as decidedly a “pro-players” couple of weeks in Minnesota, the judge decided that the lockout would be no more, and granted the players an injunction on Monday evening.

What does this mean going forward?

Well, the owners are sure to ask for a stay of the injunction to keep the players locked out as long as they can. Without a stay of injunction, the new league year essentially begins under the 2010 rules, which the players could probably play under forever.

This is good news for teams who want to possibly trade players in or before the draft. If the court gets in a quick ruling (I’m hearing it could be within a week or less, possibly 3-4 days) on the stay and says, “No, thanks,” teams could then go into the draft and trade player contracts, and possibly sign free agents.

The owners, from what I’m told, are not likely to be granted a stay, and they will most certainly appeal the injunction. Until their appeal is ruled upon, with no stay, the league will finally be open for business once more.

This is perhaps the biggest development of the entire offseason, and could be a huge step forward for the NFL as a whole.

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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and League Negotiator Jeff Pash Lower Salaries

From Andrew Brandt on Twitter:

During lockout combined salaries of Goodell and Pash $2. Combined salaries of #NFL players $0. Combined attorney fees: millions

It sounds like the commissioner was serious when he said he would be lowering his salary to one dollar, which he apparently has now officially done along with Jeff Pash. As Brandt points out, they will now be making a combined $2 while the NFLPA will not be making any money, but they all have plenty of money to pay for top of the line legal representation, and the news broke that they had hired some of the best in the business prior to announcing their lowered salaries.

Also, while it may be a bit humerus that these guys are lowering their salaries so significantly, Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk notes that salary cuts are no joking matter in the least:

But Goodell and Pash are far from the only ones: Everyone who works at the league office in New York, at NFL Films, at NFL Network and at NFL.com is getting a 12 percent pay cut. Those folks make a lot less than $5 million a year.

It was also reported today that New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan, his assistants, and the Jets’ front office were also facing a large pay decrease during this lockout.

This is only the beginning of what figures to be a long line of negative impact on the economical side of the NFL. Not only have players and coaches had to take pay decreases or worse, but the trickle effect will be catastrophic the longer it takes to get a deal done.

What happens to the workers at team pro shops, event staff, website operators, etc. will unfold in the coming months. One can only hope and pray that a deal gets done as soon as possible, because this business is much more than a game. For some, it puts food on the table and provides shelter. Without it, well, hopefully no one has to find out the hard way.

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NFL Lockout: NFL Released Statement Official Locking Out NFL Players

The National Football League released a statement this morning making official what everyone knew was coming – the NFL has locked out the players. As part of the larger statement below, the NFL announced that it informed the union of the decision:

The union’s abandonment of bargaining has forced the clubs to take action they very much wanted to avoid. At the recommendation of the Management Council Executive Committee under the authority it has been delegated by the clubs, the league has informed the union that it is taking the difficult but necessary step of exercising its right under federal labor law to impose a lockout of the union.

Here is the entire statement:

The fastest way to a fair agreement is for both the union and the clubs to continue the mediation process. Unfortunately, the players' union notified our office at 4pm ET on Friday that it had "decertified" and walked away from mediation and collective bargaining to initiate the antitrust litigation it has been threatening to file. In an effort to get a fair agreement now, the clubs offered a deal that would have had no adverse financial impact upon veteran players in the early years and would meet the players' financial demands in the latter years.

The union left a very good deal on the table. It included an offer to narrow the player compensation gap that existed in the negotiations by splitting the difference; guarantee reallocation of savings from first-round rookies to veterans and retirees without negatively affecting compensation for rounds 2-7; ensure no compensation reduction for veterans; implement new year-round health and safety rules; retain the current 16-4 season format for at least two years with any subsequent changes subject to the approval of the league and union; and establish a new legacy fund for retired players ($82 million contributed by the owners over the next two years).

The union was offered financial disclosure of audited league and club profitability information that is not even shared with the NFL clubs.

The expanded health and safety rules would include a reduction in offseason programs of five weeks (from 14 to nine) and of OTAs (Organized Team Activities) from 14 to 10; significant reductions in the amount of contact in practices; and other changes.

At a time when thousands of employees are fighting for their collective bargaining rights, this union has chosen to abandon collective bargaining in favor of a sham ‘decertification' and antitrust litigation. This litigation maneuver is built on the indisputably false premise that the NFLPA has stopped being a union and will merely delay the process of reaching an agreement.

The NFL clubs remain committed to collective bargaining and the federal mediation process until an agreement is reached. The NFL calls on the union to return to negotiations immediately. NFL players, clubs, and fans want an agreement. The only place it can be reached is at the bargaining table.

Since June of 2009, 21 months ago, the NFL clubs have made numerous comprehensive, detailed proposals and counter-proposals; negotiated in dozens of formal sessions and smaller group meetings; and engaged in a series of intensive negotiating sessions over the past three weeks under the auspices of George Cohen, the director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. We have reaffirmed to Director Cohen our commitment to the federal mediation process until an agreement is reached.

The goals of the NFL clubs have been clear from the start. The current CBA is flawed in numerous respects, and the system must be improved to ensure continued growth and innovation and a better future for the NFL, the players, and the fans.

The clubs are willing to make many changes proposed by the union, and they have modified their economic proposals in numerous respects. We need an agreement that - when looking back two, four or 10 years from now - both sides will recognize as fair, smart, good for the game, and good for all involved, including players, fans, and clubs.

Regrettably, the union's leadership has walked out and is refusing to participate in collective bargaining. The union has insisted on a continuation of an unsustainable status quo rather than agreeing to reasonable adjustments that reflect new economic realities we all have experienced. The status quo would also mean no improvements for retired players, too much money to a handful of rookies, and no changes to improve our drug programs.

The union's abandonment of bargaining has forced the clubs to take action they very much wanted to avoid. At the recommendation of the Management Council Executive Committee under the authority it has been delegated by the clubs, the league has informed the union that it is taking the difficult but necessary step of exercising its right under federal labor law to impose a lockout of the union. The clubs are committed to continuing to negotiate until an agreement is reached, and will gladly continue to work with the FMCS.

The clubs believe that this step is the most effective way to accelerate efforts to reach a new agreement without disruption to the 2011 season. The clubs want to continue negotiating intensively to reach a fair agreement as soon as possible. Our goal is finding common ground and resolving the issues with the union. That is why we ask the union to resume negotiations with the federal mediator. The negative consequences for the players and clubs will continue to escalate the longer it takes to reach an agreement.

Our message to the fans is this: We know that you are not interested in any disruption to your enjoyment of the NFL. We know that you want football. You will have football. This will be resolved. Our mission is to do so as soon as possible and put in place with the players an improved collective bargaining agreement that builds on our past success and makes the future of football and the NFL even better - for the teams, players, and fans.

We have great respect for the fans. We have great respect for our players. We have great respect for the game and the tradition of the NFL. We will do everything that we reasonably can to ensure that everyone's attention returns to the football field as soon as possible.

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NFL Releases Statement, Details Final Offer To NFLPA

The National Football League has released a statement regarding the failed CBA Negotiations, including details as to what was included in their final offer:

The fastest way to a fair agreement is for both the union and the clubs to continue the mediation process. Unfortunately, the players' union has notified our office that at 4pm ET it had "decertified" and is walking away from mediation and collective bargaining, presumably to initiate the antitrust litigation it has been threatening to file. In an effort to get a fair agreement now, the clubs offered a deal that would have had no adverse financial impact upon veteran players in the early years and would meet the players' financial demands in the latter years.

The union left a very good deal on the table. It included an offer to narrow the player compensation gap that existed in the negotiations by splitting the difference; guarantee reallocation of savings from first-round rookies to veterans and retirees without negatively affecting compensation for rounds 2-7; ensure no compensation reduction for veterans; implement new year-round health and safety rules; retain the current 16-4 season format for at least two years with any subsequent changes subject to the approval of the league and union; and establish a new legacy fund for retired players ($82 million contributed by the owners over the next two years).

The union was offered financial disclosure of audited league and club profitability information that is not even shared with the NFL clubs.

The expanded health and safety rules would include a reduction in offseason programs of five weeks (from 14 to nine) and of OTAs (Organized Team Activities) from 14 to 10; significant reductions in the amount of contact in practices; and other changes.

At a time when thousands of employees are fighting for their collective bargaining rights, this union has chosen to abandon collective bargaining in favor of a sham ‘decertification' and antitrust litigation. This litigation maneuver is built on the indisputably false premise that the NFLPA has stopped being a union and will merely delay the process of reaching an agreement.

The NFL clubs remain committed to collective bargaining and the federal mediation process until an agreement is reached. The NFL calls on the union to return to negotiations immediately. NFL players, clubs, and fans want an agreement. The only place it can be reached is at the bargaining table.

Continue

NFL Lockout 2011: NFL Owners And Players WIll Take Battle To Court

The deadline came and went, and in the end both sides may get what the wanted all along, a battle in court. NFLPA chief DeMaurice Smith gave NFL owners an ultimatum – 10 years of audited financial records to go along with any further extension or decertification. The owner, forced in a way, chose the latter.

Now the future of the NFL as we know it is murky at best. The owners will likely lock the players out, which, in turn, will generate a law-suit from the players – with Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees set to testify – asking a judge to stop the owners attempts. No matter what is decided, of course, there will be appeals, delays, and the rest of legal red-tape we see every day in the American legal system.

Many of the owners are fine with this. They will try an wait the players out – see what happens to the former union once paychecks are missed, even go so far as hire replacement players. In short – we are on the cusp of an uncertain future. Both sides say they are ready for a fight – a long fight.

So now it heads to the court of Judge Doty. He is the same judge that has overseen issues between the NFL and players since the 1990’s. He’s also never decided in favor of the owners, including a ruling last week regarding the NFL’s handling of it’s TV contracts. He will now decide whether or not to stop the NFL from locking the players out.

So where does this go from here? No one knows. One thing is for sure, however, we are in for a long fight.

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Done Deal: Union Decertifies

The NFLPA is now officially a trade association and no longer a union. They have faxed the papers to the league, and now have the ability to file anti-trust lawsuits against the NFL if and when they are locked out at 11:59 PM tonight.

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DeMaurice Smith: 10 Years of Financial Transparency or Decertification

DeMaurice Smith just approached the media, and said that “significant differences remain” between the NFL and NFLPA, and essentially says that the players want 10 years of audited financial records from the NFL, or they will decertify.

The owners have until 5 PM EST to decide whether they want to agree to that, in which case the players association has agreed to another extension.

If the owners decline Smith and the NFLPA’s request for financial information, the union will decertify and try to win the case in court.

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NFL Lockout Update: DeMaurice Smith Informs Players of Plan to De-certify

Adam Schefter just tweeted the following:

We’ll see if anything changes, it always could, but De Smith told players during his conference call the plan is to decertify

 

The NFL and NFLPA better cool heads quickly if they want to get a deal done any time soon. After some sparring last night between both parties over Twitter, it's apparent that both sides have resorted to petulance and frustration. The optimist will say that the night is darkest before the dawn, and the pessimist will say that these two will never be able to agree on anything.

The issue at hand right now is that the NFL initially asked for $1 billion from the players, and the players don't want to give it to them without seeing what it is being used for, and probably rightfully so. The exact words from New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees this morning were that they "refused" to release any information about how the funds were being used. There is a sense of distrust from the players in that regard.

So what will happen today?

Well, NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora reported this morning that the NFL owners will likely submit a revised final proposal. This is expected to be the final proposal from the owners before the players either decertify or a lockout happens at midnight tonight. The deadline for the players to decertify is 5 PM tonight. If they do not decertify, it's likely going to be either another extension on negotiations or a lockout.

If the union is not satisfied by the owners' final proposal, a few things will happen that NFL fans need to be aware of. The first domino that will fall is that the NFLPA will decertify. They will present the league with a letter of indication of their intent to "dissolve" as La Canfora put it, and then they will file papers with U.S. District Judge David Doty to seek injunction.

If the NFLPA moves for injunction, a series of events will lead to the new league year likely starting at the end of March, allowing teams a period of free agency and trades before the draft. You can read more details about this possibility here. We will have more updates as the day progresses.

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NFL Lockout 2011: CBA Negotiations Between NFL Owners, NFLPA Will Continue

There is a new deadline between the NFL and NFLPA to come to an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement. According to multiple sources, the NFL and NFLPA have agreed to a 7-day extension to the current CBA, allowing both sides to continue mediation in hopes of coming to a new agreement before the end of the month.

The new deadline – 5:00PM on Friday, March 11 – comes when there seems to be at least some optimism that a deal can be reached sooner rather than later. Both sides are expected to take the weekend to regroup before mediation begins again on Monday morning.

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NFL Lockout 2011: CBA Talks Enter Critical Phase

This is it. Do-or-die time in talks between NFL Owners and the NFLPA to come to an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement. Late yesterday the two sides agreed on a 24-hour extension to continue their dialogue today. The feeling is that today would be used to actually extend the talks even further – perhaps 7-10 days – time enough to actually hammer out a new deal.

Mike Silver of Yahoo.com reports that the feeling both sides have is today is crucial for coming to an agreement:

Sources on both sides of the conflict agreed on one basic premise: If enough progress is made that another short-term CBA extension – perhaps a week, perhaps two – is announced by Friday night, the players and owners will almost certainly be headed for a settlement that will result in a multi-year deal before the end of this month.

That is good news on several fronts, but especially important to teams like the Cleveland Browns who are trying to implement a new coaching staff. If there isn’t a new deal until, say, August, the growth and development of Colt McCoy could be greatly affected. The sooner a deal can get done, the better.

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NFL Lockout: Owners, Players Agree To Extend Deadline Until 5:00PM Friday

The talks will continue meaning there is still hope in the ongoing labor situation between NFL owners and the NFLPA. The two sides agreed tonight to extend the deadline of the current CBA until 5:00 p.m. on Friday. The two sides will not meet tomorrow, however, as George Cohen, the federal mediator, talks with both sides about extending the deadline even further, perhaps seven to 10 days.

The NFL released the following statement regarding the extension:

“George Cohen has announced that the NFL and NFLPA have agreed to extend the expiration of the CBA for 24 hours and continue negotiating under the direction of Mr. Cohen. The CBA now is scheduled to expire on Friday night at midnight.

The agreement by both sides to refrain from comment on the negotiations remains in place."

Part of Thursday’s agreement was that, even though an extension was granted, the league year has ended with player transactions. Teams no longer can cut, re-sign players or make any player moves after 11:59 p.m. ET Thursday, until there’s a new CBA.

League spokesman Greg Aiello confirmed the transaction freeze via text, saying teams are free to negotiate with players and agents, but signings are prohibited.

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NFL Lockout: NFL Owners, Players Consider 'Stopping The Clock' In CBA Negotiations

There is a glimmer of hope in Washington, D.C. this afternoon where the NFL and NFLPA are meeting in a last-ditch effort to find some common ground before football as we know it grinds to a halt - be it in the form of a Lockout or the form of the NFLPA decertifying, making these talks the focal point of a courtroom drama.

CBA negotiations are ongoing between the NFL and NFLPA and acording to Adam Schefter's three sources, talks are heating up that an extension may be agreed upon, allowing the two sides to communicate after 11:59 pm EST, tonight. This extension ("stopping the clock", according to some pundits) wouldn't help either side get closer to reaching a deal, but it would ensure that talks continue and, hopefully, an agreement can be reached in the near future. The NFLPA has openly stated that they will decertify if no deal or extension is reached.

Doesn't mean it will happen, but owners pushing for an extension of talks. Players willing if owners make some concessions.less than a minute ago via web

 

According to NFL.com, the extension could be signed and completed by this afternoon, at the earliest. There aren't any indications of how well the negotiations are going, at this point, and this news that the owners are pushing for an extension makes me think it's unlikely that a new CBA will be agreed upon today. On the other hand, if both sides can push this extension through the proper channels in one day, that should give us all a bit of confidence that the two sides are capable of working together.

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NFL Lockout: NFL Owners, Players Meeting One Last Time With Deadlines Approaching

Representatives of the National Football League Owners are meeting with a coalition from the NFLPA in hopes of reaching some kind of an agreement before the current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires at midnight tonight. That is just one deadline the groups are keeping an eye on.

One tactic the NFLPA is planning to use, if necessary, is decertification of the the Union. That, in effect, would stop the Owners from locking the players out and this whole mess would go to the court system. The NFLPA must do this BEFORE the end of the current agreement, and the paperwork must be filed by 5:00pm ET.

That means we should know in the next couple of hours if any progress has been made.

Early indications were the NFL was planning on giving the NFLPA more information regarding the economic state of many of the NFL teams. This has been a point of contention, with owners claiming they are losing money in an industry that is making record revenues.

The two sides could also decide they will extend the expiration deadline of the current CBA in order to get something done. That is exactly what happened in 2006 when the NFL-year was delayed two different times before an agreement was reached on March 11.

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NFL Lockout: Wednesday's Labor Negotiations End After Four Hours; Owners' Meeting Awaits

The next 24 hours will tell the tale about the immediate future of the NFL.  After meeting together in the same federal mediation the two sides have been have engaged in for 9 days now, the NFL Owners and NFL Players Association ended today's negotiation after four hours, with owners headed to a NFL Owner's meeting 25 miles away in Chantilly, VA. 

With the threat of a NFL Lockout still hovering around the negotiations, both sides added ammunition to the negotiations with all ten members of the NFL labor committee joining the talks along with players' union president Kevin Mawae along with New Orleans Saints' quarterback Drew Brees.

"We're talking," Mawae said when he left. "It's better than not talking."

What lays ahead is likely up to the owners.  In their meeting they are likely to decide if they want to prolong negotiations or if they are serious about getting agreement sooner rather than later.  The two sides could decide to extend the deadline a bit - the current CBA expires at midnight Thursday night - if there is a feeling that an extension would help get a deal done.  If the two sides are set on getting everything they can, you can expect the deadline to pass, the owners to lock out the players or the union to decertify.  

 

NFL general counsel and lead labor negotiator Jeff Pash reiterated that it is possible that the league and union could agree to extend the deadline for arriving at a new CBA.

"We have to see where we are. We've said that's an option. We're not taking anything off the table," Pash said.

Anything that keeps the two sides talking is progress

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Owners Arrive In Full Force As Deadline Nears

Up until yesterday, NFL Owners were absent from all of the mediated bargaining sessions with the NFL Players.  To me, that was a huge problem since the Owners will obviously have to be a major part of any new deal getting done.  That changed a bit yesterday when New York Giants owner John Mara joined the talks yesterday.  A nice step, but still I wanted more.

Today, the entire membership of the NFL owners' Labor Committee joined in on the talks, meaning for me that the negotiations are finally getting serious.  The Labor Committee consists of Co-Chairmen Jerry Richardson of the Carolina Panthers and Pat Bowlen of the Denver Broncos, Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys, Bob Kraft of the New England Patriots, Art Rooney of the Pittsburgh Steelers, John Mara of the New York Giants, Mike Brown of Cincinnati Bengals, Clark Hunt of the Kansas City Chiefs, Dean Spanos of the San Diego Chargers and Mark Murphy of the Green Bay Packers,

I see this as a big step - not necessarily for a new deal getting done before the deadline - but to show the owners are, indeed, serious about making progress.  What that means over the next 36 hours remains to be seen, but any hope at all is worth clinging to.

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