NFL players' lawyers Jeffrey Kessler (left), Barbara P. Berens and James Quinn walk with former NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith. (Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
It appears both the NFL and its players are getting more serious about resolving their differences and ending the nearly four-month old lockout.
The two sides have committed to four straight days of talks in Minneapolis beginning Tuesday to work out a deal, ESPN.com is reporting. The owners have sent their representatives and that means there is a good chance a deal will be struck.
The two sides have already had four confidential sessions. Commissioner Roger Goodell, NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith and select owners and players will attend the talks that are scheduled to last until Friday. U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan will supervise the meetings as the court-ordered mediator.
Several reports last week said that most of the major issues were close to being hammered out. The players would accept about 48 percent of the roughly $9 billion in revenue, while the $1 billion in expense cash the owners use to take off the top would go away. Also, the players would now get to share in the entire pool of income, and teams will be required to spend close to 100 percent of their cap money.
Some owners are said to not be pleased with conceding so much.
If these meetings are fruitful, then it could mean that the football season would start close to on time. Training camps are set to open next month, but because players have been locked out since March 12, they haven’t gone through proper conditioning. Teams have also not been able to hold minicamps, which prepare players for training camp.
So it’s conceivable that the entire NFL calendar could still be pushed back some in order to allow the athletes and coaches the proper time to prepare.