This just in from the laptops and exploding heads of Albert Breer, Jason La Canfora, John Clayton, and Chris Mortensen, in regard to the NFL Lockout: it may be over with an NFLPA vote Monday followed by the possibility of the league year starting Wednesday and training camps opening Friday, July 29.
Dare we hope? Dare we dream? See why we may...after the jump
Breer, La Canfora, and the Associated Press collaborated on this little ditty for nfl.com, which received its most recent update at 8:37 pm EST, and includes a video report.
The lead paragraphs read thusly:
The NFL players and owners have had their face-to-face negotiations closely chronicled over the past eight weeks.
On Saturday, they proved they could make progress in a different forum.
Using personal phone calls, email communication and conference calls, the parties regained some momentum lost on Thursday, and continued driving toward a resolution that could save the four full weeks of preseason games, with the Hall of Fame Game already cancelled. The sides addressed topics such as workers' comp, injury protection in contracts, a potential opt-out clause in the deal and, most pointedly, the potential timeline for the reforming of the NFL Players Association as a union.
Not exciting enough for you? Try this on for size:
Sources on each side said on Saturday night that some issues remain unresolved. But the NFLPA does have its 13-man executive committee and 32 player reps on standby for Monday, with a plan to bring the executive committee to the trade association's Washington headquarters in place, pending continued progress through the weekend. In addition, the NFL's labor committee, which has negotiated with the NFLPA's executive committee throughout, held a Saturday afternoon conference call to discuss the remaining issues.
Bam! Are you weak in the knees yet? No? Well, get this:
Two votes have taken place in the last four days, neither of which amounted to a deal.
Ok, I admit that one was nothing to write home about, but this one definitely had me drooling (emphasis added):
According to NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora, an NFLPA source believes that if progress continues, the players could vote on an agreement Tuesday. Owners would have to sign off on the new CBA language, too.
Sources involved in the negotiations also told La Canfora that they believe it's possible the league year will start by Wednesday and training camps could open by Friday. Depending on the timing of a full agreement being reached and a judge signing off on a global settlement, it's also possible that free agency and training camp could open simultaneously, sources said.
That is, most definitely, some HOT Insider action, and I know you know exactly what I'm talking about...(how can I sign up for that Network?)
Here's how Clayton and Mort are covering it for espn.com (also includes a video report by Clayton, so prepare your eyes if you watch it:
Major breakthroughs in Saturday's discussions between NFL owners and players have set up a timetable for both sides to resolve their 130-day labor dispute, sources said.
Owners tentatively agreed Saturday to a players-recommended plan for the NFL Players Association to bring players into team facilities starting as early as Wednesday to physically vote on whether to recertify the current trade association as a union, a source said. Progress in other talks with the owners has put the players' 11-member executive committee in a position to have a vote Monday to recommend accepting the 10-year collective bargaining agreement.
And then they were all,
The plan calls for the players' executive committee to meet in Washington, D.C., on Monday, a move that was not communicated to the NFLPA executive committee until Saturday morning in phone calls, according to a high-ranking NFLPA official.
If all agreements have been reached by then, the executive committee is expected to vote to recommend the collective bargaining agreement and recommend recertifying itself as a union, according to the source. Following that, a recommendation has to be made by the 32 player representatives, likely via conference call. As of late Saturday night, no time had been set for that vote, but it is expected to be on Monday after the executive committee votes to recommend approval, according to the high-ranking official.
Hoo-wee, girl, for real?
Yunh-hunh, and you know what else?
If the executive committee accepts the new CBA, the source said, players from certain teams would be allowed to report to training camps on Wednesday and players from other teams will be asked to report to training camps Friday. The hope from both sides is there are enough votes to recertify the union by as early as Friday.
For that to happen, a 50-percent-plus-one-vote majority of the players have to accept the NFLPA as its union and accept the terms of a CBA.
The NFL announced Thursday it would open its doors to players under contract two days after the NFLPA executive committee accepts the CBA and settlement terms from existing lawsuits and free agency would start the day after the union is recertified.
Therefore, under this tentative schedule for recertification, the pre-league year buffer period could start Wednesday.
Under that scenario, teams could potentially open contract talks with their unrestricted free agents, restricted free agents and draft choices Wednesday. However, no contracts could be signed until July 30 at the earliest. In that scenario, teams would also be able to renegotiate contracts with players from their own team starting as early as Wednesday.
Upon recertification of the union, free agency could start at 2 p.m. ET on July 30 and rosters would be allowed to expand to 90 players.
Shoot! You must be messin' with me!
I ain't, girl. But what you really won't believe is this timeline sidebar to the story (all according to the source, of course):
The timeline, according to a source:
• Monday: NFLPA's executive committee votes whether to recommend approval of the CBA approved by owners on Thursday. Then, a player rep from each of the 32 teams votes whether to recommend approval of the CBA.
• Wednesday: Players from some teams report to facilities and vote whether to recertify the NFLPA as a union and accept the proposed CBA.
If the NFLPA has gotten the necessary vote, teams can also start contract talks with their own players, including free agents and draft choices.
• Friday: The remaining players report and vote whether to approve recertification and the CBA. If the NFLPA then receives the necessary 50-percent-plus-one-vote majority in approval, then it recertifies as a union.
• Saturday: Free agency starts and teams can officially sign players.
That's all I got, girl. You can go read the rest of for yourself, but it appears that we might have the NFL year starting by the end of the week - SWEET!!
(HansDat note: and if all this is derailed Sunday, you can just forget this post ever appeared...)
** My apologies for the connecting narrative on the espn.com part - I was overtaken by some kind of weird inspiration/muse