Archive for Saturday, July 16, 2011

NFL, players: we’re making progress

July 16, 2011

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Noting that “progress has been made,” NFL owners and players wrapped up a round of intensive talks Friday without a full agreement to end the league’s four-month lockout, but determined to keep pushing over the weekend.

NFL Players Association head DeMaurice Smith expects to speak with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in the next couple of days, possibly in person, while the two sides’ legal and financial teams continue working. After about eight hours of negotiations in New York on Friday, the league and players issued a joint statement, saying: “The discussions this week have been constructive and progress has been made on a wide range of issues.”

They did not reveal any details, citing a gag order imposed by the court-appointed mediator, U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan.

But people familiar with the discussions told The Associated Press that Friday’s talks moved beyond economic issues to cover other remaining areas where gaps need to be bridged to finish off a deal. That included player health and safety matters, such as offseason workout rules.

The aim was to build upon the significant steps made Thursday, when the framework for a rookie salary system was established, including that first-round draft picks will sign four-year contracts with a club option for a fifth year. On another financial matter, the per-team cap figure for 2011 will be in the range of $120 million in salaries plus about $20 million or so in benefits.

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