After the owners met to discuss the labor situation in Chicago on Tuesday, some of them met with players' representatives on Wednesday in Boston. According to NFL Network Insider Michael Lombardi, a deal is close to being made, but not close enough that we shouldn't be a little worried.
What does this all mean? It means we are getting closer to a deal. Not close enough to not worry -- but close enough to be more optimistic that we will have a full football season starting with training camp in July.
Lombardi explains that the biggest roadblock that stopped the two sides from reaching a deal was time. As I wrote yesterday, to the NFL, the months of March, April, May and June are expendable. It's hard for two bargaining sides to come to an agreement when there isn't really a date to get a deal done by. There seemed to be an unlimited amount of time to come to an agreement, but now, that time has run out.
If the two sides don't come to an agreement soon, teams could miss out on minicamp and if it takes much longer after that, the NFL could miss out on the preseason, which team like the Bengals need because of the massive quantity of young players. The owners recognize this, and so do the players, who will start to miss paychecks if they lockout extends into the season.
One of the aspects that the owners are working on internally is their revenue sharing plan that has helped make the NFL so strong. The league's large market teams help keep the smaller market teams that would have had trouble staying relavent afloat, which is one of the biggest reasons that the NFL has grown to be the most popular in the country and created the mentality that any team can be beaten by any team on any given Sunday. There was some concern that the owners' re-working of the revenue sharing plan could hold up a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, but Lombardi wrote that, according to a league official, "nothing will keep the owners from getting a deal done."
That's good news. Hopefully the players feel the same way.