According to sources, the NFL owners and player representatives have come to an agreement that would end the current lockout. The only thing left to do is for the NFL Players Association executive committee to vote to recommend the terms of the new CBA and then for the 32 player representatives, one from each team, to vote. After that, players will report to team facilities in two waves to vote as well. If all goes well, free agency could be opened as early as next Saturday.
According to the Mothership, on Saturday, the NFLPA made arrangements for the 13-man NFLPA executive committee to meet at player headquarters in Washington D.C. where they will vote on whether to accept the new CBA and each team's player representative (Andrew Whitworth for the Bengals) have been told to stand by so they can cast their votes as early as Tuesday.
Then, according to ESPN's John Clayton and Chris Mortensen, some players would be allowed to report to team facilities on Wednesday, where they would vote on the terms of the new CBA as well as vote on recertifying the NFLPA as a union. If at that point, the CBA has the necessary votes to be made official, teams could begin contract negotiations with their own players, including free agents and draft choices.
On Friday, the remaining players would report to team facilities and cast their vote (if it's needed). And on Saturday, finally, free agency would officially open and the NFL would be back to normal operation.
While nothing is set in stone, according to a source, the NFL Players Association is so confident that the new CBA will get enough votes, recommending it to the players that they have already scheduled a news conference on Monday to announce it.
The confidence is due in part to the continued working relationship between NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, a source said. The pair have been working with each other directly as the sides near an agreement and will continue to do so through the weekend to ensure the remaining issues are resolved, according to a source.
We've been saying that the lockout looks like it's coming to an end for a few weeks now. Finally, though, it really looks as though football will be back to normal within a week.
Finally, some good news.