It is finally happening. The seemingly biggest hurdles in negotiating have begun to be overcome, which means that the NFL lockout that is in its fifth month could very well be reaching its end. After meetings that for some involved went over 17 hours, there are agreements in principle on some very key issues and the players and owners will reconvene Friday morning for more talks, after talks for Friday were up in the air.
The big obstacles that had been keeping things from moving forward have been rookie salaries and the overall revenue split. There are still things left to worry about that could cause problems, such as the retirement fund, player "tags," health care, whether the players union will recertify and what type of dispute resolution/judicial oversight there will be in this new agreement, but it finally appears that the movement that was made will lead to a possible agreement in principle on an actual CBA as early as 24 hours from now (those are the most optimistic projections).
As for rookie salaries, both sides made concessions. The players agreed to a rookie wage system, something that could be similar to the NBA, the owners conceded a fifth year on rookie contracts (it appears that rookie contracts will be a maximum of four years) and the players agreed to let contract renegotiations (happen after the third year for drafted players or after two years for undrafted players.
A new salary cap was agreed to that will be around $120 million dollars, but with some tweaks. As teams, because of bonuses,often spend more actual dollars in a season than the cap number, it looks like the "cash" salary floor or minimum will be set at 99 percent of the cap as being the required amount of money spent on player salaries and there will be no penalties for "cash over cap" spending.
As there have been people saying from both sides, the deal is not completely done, but there is more reason than ever to be optimistic. Of course, as fans, we have gotten the short end of the stick. No players or owners have lost money yet.
Some even believe that everyone was stalling until now from the beginning. The owners are set to lose a lot of money from the preseason because the players' contracts do not kick in until the regular season starts. So both could have been biding their time to see which side would crack first.
Regardless, it just needs to happen. I am so ready to spring you the headline that reveals that the lockout is over.