NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith took part in negotiations aimed at reaching a collective-bargaining agreement Thursday at a law office in Manhattan. Representatives from both sides declined to characterize the progress of talks, but an ESPN report that cited "sources close to the negotiations'' said they are expected to spill into next week despite progress on the revenue split.
Talks will continue without U.S. District Judge Arthur Boylan, who has served as the mediator. Boylan is scheduled to begin vacation Saturday.
According to an Associated Press report, plaintiffs in the Tom Brady vs. the NFL antitrust case were expected to participate in a conference call Thursday night. The antitrust suit must be settled before a new CBA can take effect.
The two sides hope to have the framework of a deal in place by Friday night even though details of the revenue split are being negotiated.
Besides Goodell, the NFL team included owners John Mara (Giants), Bob Kraft (Patriots), Jerry Jones (Cowboys) and Clark Hunt (Chiefs). The NFLPA's Smith was joined by union president Kevin Mawae and several players, including another former Jets offensive lineman, Pete Kendall.
One encouraging sign for fans is that agreement reportedly was reached on the details of free agency and the opening of training camps once a CBA is in place.
The Rams and Bears, who will meet in the Hall of Fame Game that opens the preseason schedule Aug. 7 in Canton, Ohio, are scheduled to open training camp July 22. That means a deal must be in place a week from today for those camps to open on time. Teams will be allowed from 80 to 90 players in camp to reduce the workload for veterans who haven't had the benefit of organized offseason workouts.