WASHINGTON - They aren't there yet.
NFL players and owners still didn't have the final details of a new labor deal worked out early Wednesday night. Instead, the day passed without a player vote on terms that would settle the NFL's labor dispute.
Owners are set to begin meetings Thursday in Atlanta and still could cast votes on a potential deal, NFL general counsel Jeff Pash told reporters there. He also expressed hope that the players could vote Thursday.
"I think both sides are at the point where they can close, they should close, and we should be in a position to take votes," Pash said.
To end the owners' lockout - and launch practices, free agency, and player trades - both sides need to vote on a collective-bargaining agreement and to settle outstanding lawsuits.
Players in Washington, however, said they would not be rushed into an agreement. The sides have agreed to many terms of a new deal, including players' taking a smaller share of league revenue, a rookie wage scale, reductions in offseason practices and increases in benefits for retired players. But obviously some final issues remain before the work stoppage that began March 12 can end.
"We've got a lot more work to do," New York Jets player representative Tony Richardson said as he left the meeting at NFL Players Association headquarters. "We're still hashing it out."
Remaining issues are believed to include how to set aside three pending court cases: the players' antitrust lawsuit against the NFL in federal court in Minnesota; the TV networks case, in which players accused owners of setting up $4 billion in "lockout insurance" - money the league would receive even if no games were played in 2011; and a collusion case, in which players said owners conspired to restrict salaries last offseason.
Pash said it is growing "challenging" to put on the league's first preseason game, scheduled for Aug. 7. The Eagles are set to open the preseason on Aug. 11.
All 32 player representatives gathered Wednesday in Washington. For many not directly involved in the negotiations, it would have been the first time seeing all the details of the compromises struck so far.
"We will not agree to a deal unless it's the best deal for the players," NFLPA president Kevin Mawae said.
The player representatives did vote to conditionally recommend a settlement to the 10 player plaintiffs suing owners on antitrust grounds, according to Sports Illustrated.
The recommendation is one step toward a settlement.
But the recommendation vote was conditioned on final issues' being ironed out, according to Sports Illustrated.
One holdup is that players are seeking $320 million in benefits they might normally have received but did not get last year, Sports Illustrated reported. Owners did not have to pay those benefits in a season without a salary cap, which was set in motion when they opted out of the last CBA.
The owners could vote Thursday without the players, which then would put pressure on the players.