Perhaps it was the NFL lockout hitting its 100th day that has things speeding in the right direction, but it is clear that significant progress is being made. So much so that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and players association executive director DeMaurice Smith spoke to the media together like old friends, pledging to get the 2011 season started on time.
The players and owners met for a second straight day at the Natasket Beach Resort in Hull, Mass., a suburb of Boston, and intend to meet next week in hopes of wrapping up an agreement.
The standard set of unnamed sources were back at work Thursday, saying the two sides discussed a rookie wage scale, giving the impression that the two sides have agreed on a basic framework of the bigger overall money issues and are moving on to other pre-lockout sticking points between the two sides.
The two sides are expected to continue their Summer U.S. Tour next week in Bradenton, Fla., after stops in New York, Maryland, Chicago and Boston. The meetings are set to coincide with the on-again rookie symposium, which had been postponed last month.
With the Aug. 7 Hall of Fame Game scheduled to kick off the 2011 preseason schedule, time is running short to get an agreement down on paper and the free-agent market cooking prior to teams reporting to training camp (the Bears are scheduled to start camp July 22).
There are still a lot of issues that could push an agreement back another week or so, but it would appear that both sides have made significant progress and that a deal is going to get done at some point in the near future.
Perhaps the biggest deadline the two sides face now is getting a deal done before the Eighth U.S. District Court of Appeals renders a decision on the legality of the lockout. However, given that the two sides continue to make progress without a court-ordered verdict, it is expected that a decision won't be sent down unless the negotiations stall at the 11th hour. If not, both cases in Twin Cities and St. Louis courtrooms will be dropped and the status quo will be maintained.
Given the whirlwind schedule both sides have undertaken, perhaps getting a weekend off to decompress is what is needed for the final push to get a new CBA approved.
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.
Owners, players continue to make progress
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