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Packers: NFL Lockout Deal In 2 or 3 Weeks?

Legendary senior writer jclombardi highlights NFL lockout & potential deal news.

Owners See Deal Coming: Not every owner is on board, but minimal opposition was found during Tuesday’s expanded meetings. Owners and team management personnel, in attendance to help outline a schedule for free agency, collectively created momentum toward a new CBA with little dissent.

The proposed CBA would provide players with 48 percent of all revenues. It would do away with “designated revenue” income and remove the $1 billion in credits that owners currently take off the top of the $9 billion-plus in revenues generated by the league. Under the terms presented Tuesday, players would actually share in a bigger pie. Also key is that franchises would be required to spend 100 percent, or close to it, of that year’s salary cap, in terms of real cash expenditures. The salary cap essentially is a bookkeeping number, one that can be massaged up or down with several of the mechanisms available to teams, and there have been several clubs whose “real” payrolls have fallen short of the cap number. Players would qualify for unrestricted free agency after four accrued seasons, which basically turns back the clock to pre-2010 levels. Last season, as a function of the “uncapped” year, players needed six seasons for unrestricted free agency. The league would market a new 1-game Thursday night schedule, beginning in 2012. Bidding on the Thursday night schedule would be one cornerstone of what the NFL and players agree could be skyrocketing revenues in the next decade. It is generally assumed a rookie wage scale will be part of a CBA, but that is one of several elements still being negotiated.

NFL owners, players meet again Wednesday: The next time NFL owners meet over labor, there is hope it will be to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement with the players. Optimism is in the air, for sure. That doesn’t mean the end of the lockout is at hand. Owners were briefed Tuesday on discussions for a new CBA that would net the players just under 50 percent of total revenues. Next up: more talks with the players in the Boston area. Several people with knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press that Commissioner Roger Goodell and his labor committee will meet with players association chief DeMaurice Smith on Wednesday and Thursday. The owners spent five hours Tuesday getting updated on various CBA issues. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the negotiations are supposed to be confidential.

Proposed CBA deal details pitched to NFL owners: • Players get 48 percent of “all revenue.” • Players’ share will never dip below 46.5 percent, under new formula being negotiated. • Teams required to spend close to 100 percent of the salary cap. • Rookie wage scale part of deal but still being “tweaked.” • Four years needed for unrestricted free-agent status. Certain tags will be retained, but still being discussed. • 18-game regular season designated only as negotiable item and at no point is mandated in deal. • Full 16-game Thursday night TV package beginning in 2014. • Owners still will get some expense credits that will allow funding for new stadiums. • Retirees to benefit from improved health care, pension benefits as revenue projected to double to $18 million by 2016.

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