NFL talks continue Thursday
Lawyers for the NFL and the players' association wrapped up a second day of negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement Wednesday and sources say both sides hope to achieve a true framework for a new CBA by the close of business on Friday.
Putting more pressure on the negotiators, U.S. District Judge Arthur Boylan, the mediator in the talks, is scheduled to go on vacation Saturday, sources said. But both sides are committed to stay in New York this weekend to try to finish the deal. The sides did not get together on weekends during negotiations the past month.
On Wednesday, lawyers negotiated details for free agency and training camps once the NFL is re-opened for business.
The players have so far rejected any deal that allows teams to have a right of first refusal on offers for up to three of their own free agents. One agent said: "That punishes the top guys."
Also, teams would be allowed to bring in 80 to 90 players to training camp to allow for injuries and rust because of the lockout, which reached its 113th day Wednesday.
On Thursday, commissioner Roger Goodell, NFLPA leader DeMaurice Smith, owners and players are expected to join the talks to finalize the details of a new revenue split, which is getting closer to agreement.
NFL Labor Negotiations and Lockout
The NFL lockout began March 11, but an end appears near. ESPN.com Topics keeps you up to date on all the latest on the labor situation. More »
Time is gradually becoming a factor in the discussions. Training camps for the St. Louis Rams and Chicago Bears are scheduled to open July 22, and those teams are scheduled to play in the Hall of Fame Game Aug. 7.
The rest of the training camps would open about a week later, with a full slate of preseason games set for the second weekend in August.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame is still on track to hold the game, hall president Steve Perry told ESPN on Tuesday.
"We're making all plans to have the game on time. We've heard from both parties -- the owners and the players -- and they've expressed their desire to have the game. So, that's our plan," Perry said.
Sal Paolantonio is a national correspondent for ESPN. Chris Mortensen is ESPN's senior NFL analyst. John Clayton is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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