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NFL Labor Negotiations: Up, Down, All Around

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Given that training camp is still an indefinite ways off, I'm thinking that for the coming days I'll use this 6am time to post updates on what when down the previous day in the NFL's labor negotiations. Not much is happening and I've said before that we shouldn't get too up or too down about this process. At the same time, I want to make sure we're all on the same page and aware of how this process is developing.

Tuesday was another day of mixed optimism and pessimism. On the one hand you had the Redskins discussing weekend practice plans with some confidence that a deal would be done by then (hat tip to manraj7). On the other hand, progress reportedly slowed at one point yesterday during various discussions between the lawyers. The lawyers are the primary players to start this week with DeMaurice Smith, Roger Goodell and the players and owners reporting for more detailed negotiations on Thursday and Friday.

While the lawyers are important in terms of figuring out the necessary language of the CBA (yes, I'm a shill for the lawyers!), the owners and players are the ones that will get the substance of the deal done. They seemed to be making big progress Thursday night and Friday morning but then dispersed for the holiday weekend and will now have gone approximately six days since their previous organized negotiations. That's not to say they've been sitting on their butts the last few days, but the momentum slowed somewhat.

As we approach the end of this week, the time has come for both sides to basically turn this into a more or less around the clock negotiation. They can get their daily sleep, but weekends should no longer exist for these parties. If the parties are not putting in the serious hours this weekend, we could be in for a bit of a wait. At the same time, a deal does not need to be 100% done in order to implement the rules and end the lockout. The substance needs to be figured out, but the lawyers can wrap up the minor details in the coming few weeks and even months while the NFL gets back to the field.

I'll end on what might be considered a somewhat positive note. According to SI's Jim Trotter, the NFLPA has reportedly renegotiated its contracts with outside counsel and it might only include a flat fee as part of the deal. Adding a flat fee to their contract would seem to imply the attorneys were previously on a contingency fee or hourly rate. Given the amount of money still to potentially be made from this whole process, that would seem to indicate some feelings of optimism about a deal getting done sooner rather than later.

That's just one little piece of news so take it for what it's worth. As PFT described it, "There's no way that the lawyers would agree to a fixed sum for handling the balance of a lawsuit that could drag on, in theory, for years absent some certainty as to how much more time they'll need to devote to the process." Let's hope this is actually a good sign and not just some more mixed signals.