The NFL and NFLPA agreed to a one-week extension in their labor talks. If no collective bargaining agreement is reached by that time, things could get contentious again.
The second deadline has come and gone in the ongoing dispute between NFL owners and the players union without a lockout or a union decertification, giving hope to fans that a prolonged work stoppage can be averted in the 11th hour.
After making almost no progress in the last year since the owners opted out of the current CBA in 2008, owners and the NFLPA went through their 11th day of mediation and it would appear the two sides are making at some progress in coming to a new agreement, although some reports say are still far apart on some issues.
A day after granting a 24-hour reprieve, the two sides agreed to seven additional days to discuss their differences in hopes of averting a work stoppage. The players association has enlisted star players like Peyton Manning
, Tom Brady
and Drew Brees
to act as the high-profile plaintiffs if the union decertifies and the dispute with owners goes through the court system. But, for the time being, things are in a holding pattern, which can only be viewed as a positive sign given the amount of "line-in-the-sand" talk that has gone on in recent months.
The extension is a promising sign, but it doesn't mean that their differences are close to being resolved. The NFPLA hasn't backed off its position of retaining the cost split under the current CBA and owners haven't approved opening their books to the NFLPA to share their financial information.
While it is clear that there are a lot of hurdles remaining before an agreement can be reached, the decision to extend the current CBA is reminiscent of the 2006 agreement that delayed free agency and allowed the two sides to reach an agreement that prevented a work stoppage and uncapped year back then.
Having the two sides at the table working together instead of spouting rhetoric is the first glimmer of hope that a solution can be reached.
The buzz about building a new Vikings stadium adjacent to Target Field may have a significant hurdle. In a St. Paul Pioneer Press story, Mary Jo Copeland, who runs Mary's Place and Sharing and Caring Hands, charities that help displaced people in need of food, medical attention and shelter, has said she will fight any attempt to relocate either of her non-profit businesses, which own 10 acres of land near Target Field that is being eyed by developers as an ideal stadium site. She claims she will fight any attempt to displace her by fighting the process all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Sharing and Caring hands serves more than 20,000 meals a month to those in need and Mary's Place houses 500 people in transitional housing, with most of the residents being children. It's hard to imagine the city going after that property, since it would be a hard sell given the good work Copeland has done in the community.
The last thing the NFL wants is to end up back in Minneapolis federal judge David Doty's courtroom. If the union decertifies, the case would end up in Doty's court. Doty has held domain over NFL antitrust cases since 1993, when Reggie White, Keith Byars, Keith Jackson and a handful of other players sued the NFL for the right to become free agents, which was granted and changed the face of the NFL. Doty has consistently come down hard on the NFL, so much so that the NFL has twice unsuccessfully asked that he be removed from hearing future cases.
While no deals can be announced or made official over the next week while negotiations continue, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed that teams can speak with their own players and their agents about contract extensions. However, one has to wonder how many of those deals would be struck given that they had until Thursday to get such contracts signed under the previous terms.
Plaxico Burress, who has been in prison since 2009 after a handgun in his sweatpants fell and discharged in a New York City nightclub, has been given a June 6 release date, which, if there is a labor agreement, would give him plenty of time to return to the NFL.
Packers head coach Mike McCarthy on Friday signed a contract extension through the 2015 season.
Cincinnati may be another team in the competition for a quarterback in the first round of this year's draft. Veteran Carson Palmer has demanded to be traded, but the Bengals have said they won't do it. Palmer has countered that, if he isn't traded, he will retire. Given his dismal 2010 season, it's unlikely any team would offer in a trade what the Bengals believe Palmer is trade, creating a sticky situation for both sides.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Want more in-depth coverage on your favorite NFL team? Click here and get started today.