Judge Arthur Boylan has ordered that the NFL owners and players meet for the next round of mediated talks on July 19 to attempt to bring the longest work stoppage in NFL history to an end. That doesn't mean that the two sides can't come to an agreement before the 19th, though.
For the Cincinnati Bengals to have a normal mini camp at Georgetown College, where they have held mini camp since 1997, a deal needs to be reached by July 15, but now that it's July 10, that's likely not to happen.
Even though the two sides have worked diligently over the last few weeks, now that the possibility exists that the NFL could lose their mini camps and the preseason, they seem to be stuck on the issue of a rookie wage scale.
The League's general concern is valid. Too much money flows out of the system when top-ten draft picks become busts. Also, the magnitude of those contracts possibly contributes to a player becoming a bust, by causing him to become complacent or by making him believe he doesn't have to listen to teammates, coaches, or anyone. But the league seems to be trying to leverage that concern into a solution that goes much farther than it needs to.
Making the league's position even more confusing is the apparent reality that the salary floor will creep within five or so points of the salary cap, forcing teams to spend money. So why do they want to lock up first-round draft picks to subpar contracts? The league would likely content that teams will have no choice but to extend truly great first-round picks before their initial contracts expire. While that may be true for quarterbacks and high-profile skill position players, the men who toil in anonymity easily could remain anonymous until they finish that fifth NFL season.
It's likely that the two sides won't be able to come to an agreement until they are forced to by Boylan on or after July 19. Unfortunately that means that the Bengals will likely get into camp late, which is the last thing they need with a rookie quarterback likely to take the majority of the snaps in 2011. However, for you Bengals fans residing in Cincinnati, whatever mini camp the Bengals do have, will likely be held in Paul Brown Stadium. If it is open to the public like it would be in Georgetown, you could watch them without having to drive an hour and a half.
For you Bengals fans residing in Georgetown.... looks like this isn't your year.