A new collective bargaining agreement could be in place and ratified during the July 21 league meetings, ESPN reported Monday morning. This comes on the heels of another report Sunday that the two sides are "in really good shape" and that they're down to "one main issue … the rookie wage scale."
One NFL owner told ESPN over the weekend that there's "no reason to believe [the deal] won't get done." The thinking is that a handshake agreement will be put in place in the next seven to 10 days allowing each side to ratify it and start the 2011 season.
UPDATE (9:45 a.m. ET): ESPN has added the following paragraph to its original report: "However, one member of the players' negotiating team who has been a constant presence at the table said that players feel they have made significant concessions and overtures "that have not been reciprocated."
One issue with the July 21 ratification date: for weeks we've heard that if an agreement wasn't in place by July 15, free agency and training camps could be delayed, and preseason games could be lost, which would cost the owners and players anywhere from $200-$800 million.
The workaround to that, via the ESPN report:
While a rookie wage system has been identified as the most complex issue still to be resolved between the owners and players as they return to the negotiating table this week in New York, the level of overall confidence in reaching an agreement also is evident in a document known as "The Transition Rules" that NFL teams would follow if and when both players and owners ratify a new labor agreement.The only game that might be affected is the August 7 Hall of Fame game, which as of last week was still slated to be played.
The Transition Rules spell out an actual timeline for roster transactions under the July 21 deal scenario, including the start of the new league year during which free agents would become eligible for the open market on July 28.
With the tight timeline, teams will be scrambling to fill rosters that must be set at 90 players on roughly Aug. 3 -- but all training camps would be able to open on time.
If the deal were to be ratified July 21, it would assure that almost all preseason games would be played, according to sources
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