A virtually completed deal to end the NFL’s four-month lockout is expected to be presented to player representatives on Wednesday for review and possible recommendation of approval, several people familiar with the deliberations said Tuesday night.
Attorneys for the league and players met Tuesday in New York with their court-appointed mediator, Chief Magistrate Judge Arthur J. Boylan, and failed to resolve all the remaining issues, according to people not involved in the negotiations but familiar with them. But the two sides made sufficient progress that they intended to have a draft ready for presentation to the players Wednesday in Washington, those people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the deliberations.
The NFL Players Association's executive committee and representatives of all 32 teams gathered in Washington on Tuesday to prepare for possible votes on an agreement in principle to end the NFL lockout. (July 19)
One settlement left on the table in the new NFL contracts is a plan to create a nearly $1 billion pension and health fund for the thousands of retired players who left the game with serious health problems, and little or no money to live on. (July 19)
Members of the ruling executive committee of the NFL Players Association met Tuesday in Washington. They are to be joined Wednesday by team player representatives. After Wednesday’s review, that group could recommend approval of the deal to all NFL players. The agreement would have to be approved by a majority of the close to 2,000 players, and their vote could come by conference call or e-mail as soon as late Wednesday. The players could take a single vote to approve the deal and re-form their union, which they dissolved in March.
The owners are scheduled to meet Thursday in Atlanta and could take an approval vote then. The agreement would have to be ratified by at least 24 of the 32 owners.
Michael Hausfeld, an attorney for the retired players involved in the antitrust lawsuit against the league, said after participating in Tuesday’s meeting in New York that he believed a deal between the current players and the league was imminent.
“I think it will happen in the even nearer future than you think,” Hausfeld said in a telephone interview early Tuesday evening.
Hausfeld said the issues involving the retired players would be resolved later and “we made it clear that the retiree issues are not an impediment to a resolution” between the current players and the league.
The players will be presented with hundreds of pages of legal documents but people within the sport said their review of the proposed deal will be based largely on the summary provided by DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFL Players Association.
NFL officials have said the lockout, which began March 12, will be lifted only when there is an official, signed collective bargaining agreement. If both sides approve the deal this week, free agency could begin by early next week. Teams likely will be given a three-day window to try to re-sign their own free agents before those players are allowed to sign elsewhere.
It appeared late Tuesday that most of the players who are among the named plaintiffs in the players’ antitrust lawsuit against the owners were on board with a proposed settlement, though no resolution had been reached.
Yahoo Sports reported that two of the named plaintiffs in the lawsuit, San Diego Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson and New England Patriots guard Logan Mankins, were seeking specific concessions as part of a settlement. According to the report, Mankins and Jackson wanted to be declared unrestricted free agents or compensated with $10 million each. Each player was named his team’s franchise player earlier this year after being involved in a contract dispute last year arising from the terms of a season without a salary cap.