Talks Continue Today Between NFL Owners and Players

After two days of legal teams working on the language towards a collective bargaining agreement, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith will lead negotiating teams today at the offices of Proskauer Rose LLP in New York City.

Albert Breer of the NFL Network confirms an ESPN report that the league’s objective is to have a collective bargaining agreement in place that can be voted on by owners (24 of 32 needed to ratify) at the July 21 league meeting in Atlanta, two days after a meeting with U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan in Minneapolis.

On the league side, six owners on the NFL Management Council Executive Committee are scheduled to attend today’s talks, including co-chair Jerry Richardson of the Panthers. Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Giants co-owner John Mara, Chiefs owner Clark Hunt, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, and Steelers owner Art Rooney are expected to participate, as well.

Colts center Jeff Saturday, Ravens cornerback Domonique Foxworth, and retired NFL wide receiver Sean Morey are confirmed attendees on the players’ side.

Today’s negotiating session kicks off an important week if the two sides hope to preserve a full training camp and preseason. The Hall of Fame Game is 25 days away, with the two participants, the St. Louis Rams and Chicago Bears, scheduled to open up training camp late next week. As each day passes without a CBA, it’s becoming harder to not notice that the first regular season game, between the New Orleans Saints at Green Bay Packers, is only 57 days away, or that the first Sunday of the 2011 regular season, which coincides with the 10th anniversary of 9/11, is scheduled for 60 days from today.

NFL front offices must be getting antsy, as rosters under the league’s “The Transition Rules” are expected to increase to 90 players for training camp. Between signed players, exclusive rights free agents, restricted free agents, franchise players, and 2011 draft picks, around 2,100 players are under club control. That means nearly 700 free agents, veteran and undrafted, could be signed during a seven-day period before training camps open up.

A deal today is unlikely, even though it would certainly dominate several days’ worth of news cycles. Particularly today’s, as the day after Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game is a dead zone on the major sports league calendar. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported on Tuesday that July 17 has emerged as a potential target date for the announcement of a deal. That date makes a lot of sense, as it leaves just one day before the scheduled meeting Judge Boylan, attendees of which will have “full settlement authority”, for the deal to fall apart.

As nice as it would be to have a deal announced today, a United States win over France in the semi-finals of the 2011 Women’s World Cup may be our only opportunity for celebration on Wednesday.

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