Thursday, July 7, 2011
Updated: July 8, 11:52 AM ET
Source: Call updates players on deal
ESPN.com news services
The plaintiffs in the Tom Brady vs. NFL case participated in a conference call Thursday night, the latest step toward completing a labor deal between the NFL and its locked-out players in the near future.
The purpose of the conference call was to update the individual plaintiffs on the status of the labor negotiations, particularly the framework for a new collective bargaining agreement, a league source told ESPN's Sal Paolantonio.
All of the details of the agreement have not been worked out, but the call was designed to give the plaintiffs a clear idea of where the agreement is headed so that they can make an informed decision about the anti-trust lawsuit which must be settled in federal court prior to the CBA taking effect, the league source said.
Those scheduled to be on the conference call were Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Logan Mankins, Osi Umenyiora and rookie Von Miller -- all of whom must approve of the deal in federal court before it can become binding.
One participant in the conference call told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that little was revealed. The overlying message was that the sides are close on some areas but not close on others.
Owners and players are getting closer to reaching an agreement on the all-important revenue split, but there's still work to be done on the new parameters of free agency, particularly whether teams will be allowed the right of first refusal on up to three of their free agents.
This could affect some big names involving big money, including Joseph Addai, Antonio Cromartie, Santonio Holmes and DeAngelo Williams.
According to one participant who was on the conference call with NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, Smith told the players "We are close, but we got work to do and I'm not signing this until you guys are taken care of."
Talks will resume Friday.
It still is expected that negotiations will spill into early next week to achieve a "done deal," the sources close to the negotiations told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen. Even with progress, there are unresolved issues that require further negotiations. Members of the NFL Players Association's executive board and owners resumed discussions Thursday at a law firm in Manhattan.
If the talks extend past Friday, the sides will be negotiating without U.S. District Judge Arthur Boylan, the mediator in the talks. Sources told ESPN that Boylan is scheduled to go on vacation Saturday.
Commissioner Roger Goodell, Smith, owners and players are involved in the talks to finalize the details of a new revenue split, which is getting closer to agreement. Sources told ESPN on Wednesday both sides hope to achieve a true framework for a new collective bargaining agreement by the close of business on Friday.
Besides Goodell and Smith, others that took part in the talks Thursday included NFLPA president Kevin Mawae and team owners including Robert Kraft of the Patriots, John Mara of the New York Giants and Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys.
Lawyers for both sides have met over the past two days to do paperwork toward a collective bargaining agreement. On Wednesday, they negotiated details for free agency and training camps once the NFL is re-opened for business.
Teams would be allowed to bring in 80 to 90 players to training camp to allow for injuries and rust because of the lockout, which reached its 114th day Thursday.
Players and owners have been involved in six sets of negotiations around the country over the last several weeks, with pressure mounting to make a deal.
Training camps for the St. Louis Rams and Chicago Bears are scheduled to open July 22, with those teams scheduled to play in the Hall of Fame Game Aug. 7 in Canton, Ohio.
The rest of the training camps would open about a week later, with a full slate of preseason games set for the second weekend in August.
Some training camps are set to open in less than three weeks and the first exhibition game, at the Pro Football Hall of Fame inductions, is Aug. 7 in Canton, Ohio. Hall of Fame president Steve Perry has said the plan now is that the game will go on as scheduled.
The Buffalo Bills still appear on track to hold training camp at St. John Fisher College in suburban Rochester. Todd Harrison, a faculty member who works with the Bills in overseeing camp, said school officials "continue moving forward" with their plans.
A person familiar with the situation told the AP that the college issued an email invitation to training camp staff to attend an annual orientation session on July 18. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the email was not released publicly. The Bills did not return messages seeking comment.
Information from ESPN national correspondent Sal Paolantonio, ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, ESPN.com senior NFL writer John Clayton and The Associated Press was used in this report.