NFL owners and players are meeting in the Boston area in the latest attempt to work out a new collective bargaining agreement, a person with knowledge of the talks told the Associated Press.
Commissioner Roger Goodell and members of his labor committee resumed negotiations with players' association chief DeMaurice Smith and several players yesterday. A day earlier, NFL owners were briefed on recent progress about a new CBA.
Two days of meetings were scheduled, but it was not immediately clear whether the talks would continue today.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the negotiations are confidential.
Both sides seemed optimistic about reaching an agreement after owners were briefed on a new CBA that would net the players just under 50 percent of total revenues. An NFL-imposed lockout has been in place since March 12. Training camps are scheduled to open in late July.
The owners spent 5 hours Tuesday listening to updates on various CBA issues. Afterward, the league's chief negotiator Jeff Pash said, "We're eager to accelerate the pace of the negotiations."
"We have a lot of work to do and we've got to do it right," Goodell added. "The agreement has to focus on several issues and the issues are complex. It must be done in a way that is fair to the players and a way that is fair to the clubs."
One person told the AP that the players' share would approach the 50 percent the NFLPA has said it has received throughout the last decade. But the expense credits - about $1 billion last year - that the league takes off the top would disappear.
Also, there would no longer be "designated revenues" from which the players would share, the person said. Instead, the players would share from the entire pie, which they project will grow significantly over the course of the new CBA, which is expected to run anywhere from 6 to 10 years. So if they are taking 48 percent or more of a much higher revenue stream - without the initial NFL deduction for operating expenses - the players still would receive far more money than they got under the previous agreement.
A salary floor keeping teams within 90 percent of the cap also would be included. The players have been concerned that some teams whose revenue streams don't match up with the richer clubs would try to hold down salary spending.
Goodell said ownership is "united and determined to reach an agreement and have a full 2011 season. The ownership has a better understanding of the framework [of a new CBA]."
Several owners were expected to have objections to some of the proposals. Goodell was asked if there was a consensus among owners, to which he replied that "is a little deceiving because we don't have an agreement" with the players.
Both sides sound eager to find common ground rather than return to court. A U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is considering the league's appeal of a lower-court injunction that originally blocked the lockout. That injunction is on hold, and a ruling could come anytime.
Asked how close an agreement might be, neither Goodell nor Pash would put a timetable on it.
"I have no idea," Pash said. "We have to spend a significant amount of time with the players. There's a lot of work to be done for both parties. I don't think there's any way to say it's close or not close."