DeMaurice Smith, Executive Director of the National Football League Players' Association (Photo: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
The four-month old NFL lockout may finally be coming to an end.
ESPN quoted sources Thursday night who said the NFL owners and players cleared some major hurdles in talks throughout the day and that a new collective bargaining agreement will be settled soon.
The rookie wage-scale system had been the sticking issue for weeks now, but the two sides came to an agreement on that Thursday night. Now there seems to be motivation to get through the rest of the negotiations so that the season can begin on time.
Also significant is that the players and owners agreed to a salary cap in 2011 of $120 million, plus there will be another $21 million paid for player benefits, according to a cbssportsline.com report. On paper this looks like a setback for the players, as the salary cap in 2009 was $128 million (2010 was an uncapped year). But the payoff for the players should come in 2014, when revenues are expected to go through the roof, and so should their share, according to the ESPN report.
But there is still some work to be done if the owners and players expect to reach their goal of having an agreement in place and ready to be ratified by July 21. The two sides still need to work out deals on critical issues such as the settlement on the Brady vs. NFL antitrust lawsuit, right-of-first-refusal option on this year’s free agent group and workmen’s compensation, among a list of other negotiable items, according to ESPN.
Training camps are set to open later this month, and the first preseason game—the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio—is scheduled for Aug. 7 between the Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams.