After a couple of weeks of hearing that both sides in the NFL lockout are moving closer to an agreement, now we are learning that the two sides are not as close as we’ve been led to believe.
We’ve heard about the secret meetings at undisclosed locations. And it seemed like both the players and owners were motivated to end the lockout that is approaching four months with the announcement of four straight days of meetings this week. Then Wednesday, commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith appeared together to address the NFL rookies.
But NFL insider Jay Glazer of FoxSports.com is reporting that the night before Goodell and Smith appeared as a united front, Smith actually had a pretty sobering teleconference with some of the league’s top players. Smith reportedly told the players that certain news outlets were far off in predicting that a deal is close.
There has been speculation that the two sides could have a deal in place by the weekend, making it possible for the NFL season to start on time. But maybe that isn’t the case.
Smith apparently told the players that the owners haven’t given a good enough offer for him to present to the players yet.
Now it sounds like a major sticking point may be the issue of free agency. The owners were interested in a six-year threshold before players could become unrestricted free agents. But FoxSports.com is now reporting that the owners are willing to keep it at four years with some immediate concessions.
The translation seems to be that major progress may be made with this week’s talks that are scheduled to end Friday, but the NFL’s longest work stoppage may last a little longer.
(Photo: AP Photo/Brian Blanco)