Sunday, November 29, 2015

NFL Talks Extended a Week -- Is Deal Coming?

When the CBA talks were extended for a day yesterday evening, most observers still felt union decertification and a lockout were likely. Overnight, though, buzz started building of genuine progress that could eventually lead to a settlement.

NFL Talks Extended a Week -- Is Deal Coming?

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, left, and NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith.  (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, left, and NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

UPDATING: The NFL Network has reported that the collective bargaining agreement has been extended a week for more bargaining talks. Teams cannot make moves during this time.

The new deadline is set for 5 p.m. March 11. Mediation is expected to resume Monday, with the sides meeting among themselves over the weekend.

Teams are barred from making transactions during this period.

EARLIER: Your Eagletarian has abandoned the vigil at 21st and K streets in Washington in favor of the palatial Eagletarian estate in South Jersey, frankly because he concluded there is nothing that can be gleaned standing there on the sidewalk (or in the nearby Kinko's and Starbucks) that can't be gathered from his Twitter feed or the NFL Network.Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service building

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Rich Hofmann: Did NFL owners get cold feet?
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Also, it was cold. And he is scheduled to be on Daily News Live tonight, which pays money, but only if you actually show up.

Anyhow, driving up I-95 this morning, he was heartened but a little wary of the sudden shift toward insider optimism about the collective bargaining talks, much of it from the same people who were counseling us to batten down the hatches for a lockout Wednesday evening and even yesterday, after the 24-hour extension was announced.

Eagletarian has no sources inside the room -- the Eagles and their player rep, Winston Justice, are on the sidelines. But having been through this sort of thing a few times over the years, everything doesn't often swing 180 degrees in a few hours. For the sake of fans, and for myself, not wanting to try to cover a lockout, I hope the reported possible 7-to-10-day extension happens, and that it is, of course, the prelude to a settlement. But I am not ready to conclude that such an extension would make a settlement inevitable, as some people are postulating today.

If you're going to need 7 to 10 days of talks to get it done, the result of all that can't really be inevitable.

But I will say the same thing I said yesterday as I shivered on the sidewalk, before ducking into the CVS to buy the attractive knit cap and gloves I was wearing when I appeared on the NFL network background shot many people chuckled over: This is a big cliff these guys have been getting ready to jump off. It is one thing to spend years getting ready to jump, as they have. It's another to finally stand there on the ledge and bend your knees and spring into the abyss. As Rich Hofmann noted this morning, complications have arisen for both sides, including the court ruling this week that at least temporarily bars the owners from dipping into their $4 billion TV lockout money war chest, and might compel them to have to pay damages to the players. I don't know how either Roger Goodell or DeMaurice Smith can stand in front of his constituents today and assure them they will be better off going to war than with a compromise. Neither guy has a slam-dunk winner position.

Players told me privately months ago that even though they don't like it, they are willing to give the owners the 18-game season to get a deal done. And both sides want the rookie wage scale, in some form, only the agents don't like it and they aren't in the room. The real issue is the extra $1 billion the owners want to exempt from the revenue split with the players. I say, cut that number in half and let's get on with free agency.

Really anxious to hear that 7-to-10-day extension announcement, even if I'm not standing in front of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation office to hear it.

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Eagletarian is your home for comprehensive coverage of the Philadelphia Eagles.

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