Posted by Ryan Wilson
The week started on a high note, and for the first time all spring the promise of a 2011 season not only seemed possible, but imminent. More than that, the acrimony between owners and players (and the lawyers that represented them), palpable for most of the lockout, suddenly melted away. Not to overdramatize the past few days, but hope is a powerful emotion, particularly for fans who live and die with their NFL teams.
The recent secret meetings between the two sides was almost simultaneously described as "heading in the right direction" and nearly "blowing up." The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle (though the optimist in us likes to think a new deal is "80-85 percent complete").
For now, however, owners and players will retire to their respective corners to reevaluate what just transpired and regroup for future get-togethers. (Note to interested parties: give the lawyers the wrong address for the next round of meetings. Trust us, it's for the best.)
As for the just-concluded two-day talks, NFL.com's Albert Breer writes that "According to sources, the talks remain productive and are moving forward, though a resolution to the three-month-old lockout is not on the immediate horizon.
"Both sides have evaluated and strongly considered the concessions and compromises that could ultimately lead to the problem being solved, though, and sources indicated an agreement could come within a month."
The sides also released a joint statement Wednesday, and promised to keep the media out of the proceedings. Their statement:
“Discussions between NFL owners and players under the auspices of Chief Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan took place again this week and will continue. At the request of Judge Boylan, both sides have agreed to maintain the confidentiality of the substance of the talks.”
Next up for the owners: a June 21 meeting outside Chicago. The meeting is scheduled for one day but could drag on longer as both sides presumably work toward a deal.
The players, meanwhile, will continue to workout -- both informally and on their own -- with renewed hopes for an NFL season.
"Probably a sense of urgency with the season just around the corner," Saints quarterback Drew Brees said Wednesday. "The general understanding from everybody is that if we don't have something done by July it would be hard to start on time."
Well, no time like the present, fellas.
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.