Sources: NFL talks will resume next week
With training camps set to open in another month, NFL owners and players will resume negotiations next week, hoping to build on recent talks, two people familiar with the discussions said Friday.
While each side has acknowledged progress in the four-month-old lockout, a new collective bargaining agreement isn't imminent. One of the two people who spoke on condition of anonymity said conference calls are being set up to discuss various issues, but not the major one of splitting revenues.
The person said that was being negotiated "face to face."
The two people declined to be identified because the meetings were confidential.
The sides completed two days of talks at a beachfront resort in Hull, Mass., on Thursday. On hand were NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, owners John Mara of the New York Giants, Jerry Richardson of the Carolina Panthers, Clark Hunt of the Kansas City Chiefs, Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots and Dean Spanos of the San Diego Chargers.
NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith also was present along with several players, including Jeff Saturday of the Indianapolis Colts, Tony Richardson of the New York Jets and Domonique Foxworth of the Baltimore Ravens.
"Someone asked me whether I was optimistic," Smith said. "I think we're both optimistic when we have the right people in the room. We know we're talking about the right issues and that we're working hard to get it done."
Previous meetings took place in suburban Chicago, New York and the Maryland shore.
Once the owners and players can agree on how to divide revenues — $9.3 billion last year — other issues such as a rookie wage scale, benefits for retired players, and player health and safety could fall in line quickly. Still, it's almost July, and training camps are scheduled to open late next month. The first preseason game is Aug. 7 at Canton, Ohio.
This week, two teams — the Ravens and Jets — said they would train at their regular-season facilities and not out of town. Baltimore canceled its camp at Winchester, Md., and New York did the same for Cortland, N.Y.
"With all the variables presented by this unique offseason, we felt it was best for the Jets that we hold our training camp here at our practice facility," general manager Mike Tannenbaum said Friday.
Also this week, league owners were briefed on a plan that would give the players just under 50 percent of total income. An off-the-top expense credit of about $1 billion that went to the owners would be eliminated.