The NFL and the New England Patriots are engaged in "back-channel conversations" to see whether the two sides can resolve their differences without an appeal or possible litigation after the league's Deflategate punishment, sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
The Patriots are weighing their next move in terms of reacting to the discipline meted out by the NFL and have until before Friday to file an appeal of their penalties, which consist of the loss of two draft picks -- including a first-rounder -- and a $1 million fine.
The team's penalties were for, among other issues, what the NFL said was a lack of cooperation with the investigation.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will attend the spring owners meetings, which start Tuesday in San Francisco. Kraft addressed the media Tuesday afternoon.
It won't be the first meeting between Kraft and Goodell since the league handed out its punishment, however, as an industry source told Schefter on Tuesday that the two hugged, sat down and talked "for quite a long time" at a 60th birthday party for CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus in New York on Saturday night.
Kraft, when asked by The MMQB whether he would violate NFL bylaws by going to court to try to get the league penalties overturned, declined to comment, saying, "I'm not going to comment on that at this point in time. I'm going to leave it. I won't say."
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was suspended for four games for his likely knowledge of the use of underinflated footballs in the AFC title game against the Indianapolis Colts. Brady has officially appealed his suspension to the league.
In addition, a league source told Schefter on Tuesday that the league asked the Patriots to suspend officials locker room attendant Jim McNally and equipment assistant John Jastremski before the team was disciplined by the NFL. The Patriots obliged with the request to suspend the two employees.
An NFL spokesman denied ESPN's report that the league asked the team to suspend the employees.