NFL Lockout: Major Progress on Rookie Wage Scale (UPDATED)

There's not a whole lot of solid news coming out of the NFL CBA negotiations but there does seem to be more positive news lately. Drew Brees recently expressed optimism that a deal is close, stating "I feel like there's a fair deal there -- we all do -- and we think it's time to step up and make a deal". This following rumors that all the positive noise regarding the negotiations were coming strictly from the owners, so we can throw those rumors in the dumpster.

Michael Silver quickly threw some water on the fires of optimism reporting he has sources that state Brees is being overly optimistic. This is Silver's second flip-flop following a one the talks being stifled and then on the agreement being closer than many people (including people involved) realize. If you're still taking Silver seriously as a reporter on the lockout, you only have yourself to blame. I've given my opinion on the overblown journalism going around before, so this time I'll just link to Bucs Nation writing about it

The above news is already a day old and it's a fast-moving world. John Clayton was reporting earlier that the rookie wage scale issue shouldn't be overstated. As he sees it, both sides agree the rookie wages, specifically of the first 25 or so picks, are an issue that needs to be dealt with. The biggest contention, as we've discussed earlier, is the fact that the NFLPA wants to trade in cost for shorter contracts. Clayton feels the most likely solution to be four-year contracts in round one with a fifth year option for the teams, which sounds very reasonable.

And it seems his optimism wasn't unfounded. An hour or so ago NFL lockout watchdog Albert Breer was reporting on a possible breakthrough in the rookie salary issue, from his twitter feed:

Significant progress on rookie salary system today. In fact, if the parties can work out a couple minor issues, it could be solved. The resolution of this issue would be very big in these talks. As of now, it's the biggest outstanding issue. Again, there's still a lot of other things to work through. But I'm told the movement on rookie salaries does represent a breakthrough.

Breer is right to remind us there are issues still remaining, such as the owners' wish to have a right of first refusal for three or more free agents when free agency opens, but from all reports the rookie salary system was the most complex and possibly contentious issue remaining on the table.

Mike Freeman is also reporting that a breakthrough has been made, and specifies this was because the owners made concessions on the issue, which would indeed point to shortened contracts. If these reports are accurate and the two sides have reached a breakthrough in the negotiations on this issue, it would be huge.

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UPDATE (DK): Per ESPN: "NFL players and owners have agreed in principle to a new rookie wage system, sources on both sides told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

There remains a handful of other issues that need to be worked out and talks are continuing, but the sources told Schefter that the rookie wage system is no longer considered an impediment to a new collective bargaining agreement.

A management negotiator told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen that the rookie system is "done," but expected there to be some "tweaking" when the deal is written out. The exact language of the system is being worked out by both side's lawyer, sources told Mortensen."

So we got that going for us, which is nice.

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