2011 NFL Lockout: Could we have a deal reached by Independence Day?

Our long national nightmare might finally be over--not the lockout but seeing DeMaurice Smith's ugly hats.

There's been a great deal of buzz circulating lately over the the negotiations currently in session, and any resolution to those negotiations. On the 11th Daniel Kaplan of the Sports Business Journal tweeted the following:

Told optimism is so high in NFL, players talks over labor deal that expectation is for a framework agreement in about two weeks    

Earlier today Andrew Brandt of the National Football Post. tweeted that: 

NFL Players and Owners resume talks this week in the bat cave. Goal is framework for presentation to full ownership next week in Chicago.

Adam Schefter followed that up with the following:

FWIW: League sent memo to teams last night, advising them to be prepared to stay overnight during next Tuesday's NFL meetings in Chicago.    

Unless the owners are in the mood for a sleepover I can only think of one reason to have a two-day meeting, and that's to vote on a proposed CBA. Schefter followed the tweet above with this little gem:

Some GM's believe a new CBA will be voted on June 21/22nd. Doesn't mean it gets approval, but teams could vote on CBA next week.    

So what does that mean for football this year?

Well I have to think that if negotiations have gone far enough to present terms to both sides that they're going to pass. Neither negotiating team is going to want to lose face by presenting a radically different proposal than what their constituency wants, so any deal presented to each side will almost certainly pass.

Here's what i have to think the schedule for the off-season would look like:

June 21-22: Players vote and agree to the CBA

June 23: Free agency starts

June 27: OTAs and minicamps start

Aug 5: End of free agency

Aug 11: First pre-season game

Sept 18: Week 1 of the NFL regular season

All of this is complete and utter speculation of course. I base the free agency period on the idea that the league will want teams mostly settled by the start of the pre-season, though I could see a special exemption being made for this season due to the lockout and having free agency extend up to a week before the regular season. 

I actually think this may end up helping the 49ers if the schedule goes down like this. Instead of OTAs, break, mini-camps, break, pre-season and then regular season there would probably be just one long session, so the information doesn't get lost. There also seems to be a bigger sense of dedication from the players this year than I can remember in several years. Of course this  might just be my eternal optimism shining through, but I have to admit that I'm starting to get very excited about the upcoming season.

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