Negotiations between the NFL and the NFL Players Association are still on the brink, but it will be another 24 hours before they reach critical mass.
The two sides ended a 10th day of talks before a federal mediator and agreed to talk more on Friday. The deadline for the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement, which had been scheduled for midnight tonight, is now midnight tomorrow.
"The two sides agreed to continue discussions aimed at maintaining peace," Colts center Jeff Saturday said late this afternoon.
After more than seven hours of negotiations, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith emerged from the meetings and offered this thanks to fans.
"To all our fans who dig our game, we appreciate your patience as we work through this," he said. "We're going to keep working. We want to play football."
There were fears that the lack of an agreement would lead the NFL to file for decertification and thus set the stage for legal challenges to the league's anti-trust exemption. The NFL was set to impose a lockout of the players beginning at midnight tonight.
The NFL did not comment on the extension of the talks. It appears the delay may lead to yet another extension as a way of bridging the negotiating gaps. The three key sticking points are how to share $9 billion in annual revenues, the institution of a rookie wage scale, and an increase in regular season games from 16 to 18.
When the two sides last negotiated an extension to the CBA in 2006, they stopped the clock twice before agreeing on a deal. The NFL opted out of that extension in 2008, setting the stage for the current showdown.