NFL Discussions Resume As Pressure Mounts
Updated: July 7, 2011
Owners, players join NFL talks
ESPN.com news services
NEW YORK -- Members of the NFL Players Association executive board and owners resumed negotiations Thursday at a law firm in Manhattan in hopes of resolving a lockout that began in March.
Sources told ESPN on Wednesday afternoon that both sides hope to achieve a true framework for a new collective bargaining agreement by the close of business on Friday. Commissioner Roger Goodell, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, owners and players are joining the talks Thursday to finalize the details of a new revenue split, which is getting closer to agreement.
Putting more pressure on the negotiators, U.S. District Judge Arthur Boylan, the mediator in the talks, is scheduled to go on vacation Saturday, sources said. But both sides are committed to stay in New York this weekend to try to finish the deal. The sides did not get together on weekends during negotiations the past month.
Entering the building Thursday were several executive board members, including Smith, president Kevin Mawae and NFL owners. The owners included Robert Kraft of the Patriots, John Mara of the New York Giants and Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys.
Lawyers for both sides met the last two days to do paperwork toward a new collective bargaining agreement. On Wednesday, they negotiated details for free agency and training camps once the NFL is re-opened for business.
The players have so far rejected any deal that allows teams to have a right of first refusal on offers for up to three of their own free agents. One agent said: "That punishes the top guys."
Also, teams would be allowed to bring in 80 to 90 players to training camp to allow for injuries and rust because of the lockout, which reached its 114th day Thursday.
Time is gradually becoming a factor in the discussions. Training camps for the St. Louis Rams and Chicago Bears are scheduled to open July 22, and those teams are scheduled to play in the Hall of Fame Game Aug. 7.
The rest of the training camps would open about a week later, with a full slate of preseason games set for the second weekend in August.
Information from ESPN national correspondent Sal Paolantonio, ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen, ESPN.com senior NFL writer John Clayton and The Associated Press was used in this report.
Re: NFL Discussions Resume As Pressure Mounts
I really think they are starting to get this thing together.