NFL Lockout Update: Possible Deal In Two Weeks?

Well respected sources of information on the NFL Lockout have reported palpable optimism as of late and Daniel Kaplan of the Sports Business Journal reported this morning that things are going so well that a deal could be reached in two weeks. Here's what he said:

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Kaplan has been one of the best in lockout coverage and earliest in breaking news since this all began, so this is good news. Of course, there is a long way to go before a real deal is in place but this time it SEEMS there is actual reason to be optimistic there is light at the end of the tunnel. I realize I sound like a broken record on that front but I'm an optimistic person, sue me.

Albert Breer of NFL.com has also reported on some reasons for optimism - namely the fact that the NFL and Players were working hard behind the scenes to get it all done. As he wrote yesterday, The parties began these clandestine-style, face-to-face meetings last week, with a three-day summit in suburban Chicago. The league and players followed that up with a two-day meeting earlier this week in Long Island, N.Y.

Among those who have taken part in the meetings are Commissioner Roger Goodell, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith, NFLPA president Kevin Mawae, owners/labor committee members Jerry Richardson, Robert Kraft, John Mara, Art Rooney II, Jerry Jones, Dean Spanos and Clark Hunt, and active players Domonique Foxworth, Tony Richardson, Mike Vrabel and Jeff Saturday. U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan -- who ran court-ordered mediation in his Minneapolis chambers in April and May -- has also been present, though in a different capacity than the one he filled during the mediation." 

He added on his Twitter account:

"As I just said on Total Access, and reported earlier, the NFL and players don't return to face-to-face stuff until early next week. But the league and players were talking as recently as today. That underscores that they don't need to be face-to-face to be working. Also in that report, I relayed an estimate I got that the sides are working approximately 5 hrs away from talks for every hour face-to-face."

Of course, this news comes on the heels that "the Lockout is over," according to a Massachusetts newspaper. Though this 'breaking news' turned out to be less than accurate, the reporter - Bill Burt -, has a good reputation and must have had an over anxious source pass on some overly ambitious info. The idea though that things are going so well that the end is in sight is something that cannot be ignored coming from multiple sources. Burt said in his report:

"A deal to end the National Football League's lockout is almost complete, according to an NFL source. According to the source, owners and players were close to an agreement today to end the lockout, which entered its 86th day today. Some coaches and players have been contacted about returning to work probably early next week and possibly as soon as this weekend."

UPDATED: Tip of the cap to Doug Farrar over at Shutdown Corner for his piece I just saw on the lockout optimism as well. He said:

"It was tough to buy in to the idea that the NFL lockout was either over or almost over based in the article in one small Massachusetts newspaper, especially when no larger news services picked it up and ran with it, and spokespeople from both sides — Greg Aiello of the NFL and George Atallah of the NFLPA -- immediately denied the report. However, when looking at the landscape as it stands now, there seems to be cause for legitimate optimism regarding an end to the labor battle for the first time in months. The owners and players have been meeting in private and have made commitments to continue doing so, and more and more sources are coming out and saying that while we're not all the way there yet, serious moves are being made."

Farrar also linked to a piece at The Z Report, stating that a deal could be close to being done. Lance Zierlein reports:

"After lengthy discussions with both sources, they both conveyed to me a great deal of hope that a deal would be done by July and possibly as early as late June.  Why the sudden optimism?  According to one of the sources, “both sides are focusing on the percentage of total revenue coming in (would include the first $1 billion the owners are currently taking off the top) and if that deal gets done, the other issues will probably fall into place fairly quickly according to what I’m hearing.”

The players currently make just over 59 percent of all revenue, but that does not include the $1 billion the owners take off the top.  If that money is included in total revenue, the players get about 51 percent.  While the owners are said to be low-balling the players on their revenue offer, both of my sources from the players’ side said that the percentage appears to be negotiable and could easily come up to a number that both sides could agree upon. “”I am 100 times more hopeful than two weeks ago that a deal can get done relatively quickly” was the sentiment from one of my sources who also believes that issues like health care and the rookie salary are issues that could potentially “be done already”."

Now, I'm not trying to be sensationalist by reporting on every little rumor, but I will make a point to give you the latest information percolating down into the media from well-placed NFL sources. And these sources are all saying the same thing - that work is getting done, progress is being made, things are going well, and we're close to a deal. Here's to hoping they're right. If things can wrap up in the next two to three weeks, the season will actually end up being fairly normal - a period of free agency, some minicamps and training camp, a full preseason, and a full season. What a novel idea!

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