Posted by Ryan Wilson
The lawyers for the owners and players met again Wednesday as they continue to work toward a new collective bargaining agreement. And sources tell ESPN that both sides hope to reach a "true framework for a new CBA by the close of business Friday."
If there weren't already enough reasons to end the lockout as soon as possible (the reasons now number into the hundreds of millions), here's another: U.S. District Judge Arthur Boylan, the mediator in the talks, is scheduled to go on vacation Saturday, ESPN reports. And after taking the July 4th weekend off, both sides are committed to staying in New York and working through the weekend if it means getting a deal done.
We have written previously that the lockout could end as early as Sunday, July 10.
For weeks, mid-July had been the cutoff to guarantee that no preseason games were lost, and that training camps would open on time. It would also allow for an abbreviated free-agency signing period.
More from NFL Network's Albert Breer, who appeared on Wednesday's Total Access:
I'm told that today was a very productive day of talks. The talks went right into Wednesday evening, a long day, and it's interesting some of the signs you see during the day watching what was going on. At two o'clock … one of the league's lawyers and the drug czar came in … at a about five o'clock, management counsel lawyers came into the room and they were going over a lot of clarifications and the details of the language of a potential deal. It looks like they've made progress here in finalizing some of the paperwork … that would go into a new collective bargaining agreement.Breer added that "there's a chance this could get taken care of by the end of this week. I think [Thursday] is a very, very big day."
It doesn't mean that anything's done -- the bigger issues still need to be hashed out -- but what this does is set the stage for a deal when the bigger issues are worked out.
Some fans continue to be cautiously optimistic while others, understandably, are of the "we'll believe it when we see it" mindset. Given all that's happened in the previous four months, we can't blame them. Although we don't have tangible evidence of progress on the labor front, we're taking it as a good sign that the Cowboys have scheduled training camp and that the Hall of Fame game between the Bears and Rams is still a go.
If we're lucky, by the start of next week, the 2011 season will be officially underway and we can get back to worrying about the truly important stuff. Like how many games the Panthers will lose, or which team will actually take a chance on Tiki Barber.
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