The initial "deadline" to ensure the first preseason game, the Hall of Fame game on August 7th, was played on time was scheduled to be July 15th. That is this coming Friday -- the end of the business week. What is the latest?
Talks continued this past week, but Judge Arthur Boylan, who has mediated recent talks between the players and the owners, told both parties to appear before him in Minneapolis on July 19th [link]. That is the Tuesday following the initial deadline. It isn't the most ideal scenario, but it might not be too far of a stretch to start cancelling preseason games.
The owners and the players are supposed to be continuing talks this week. The ideal scenario? That they come to a pretty firm agreement, and then on July 19th, they present it to the judge and allow the legal proceedings to go forth in implementing the end of the lockout. The bad scenario? That talks disintegrate this week, and when they meet on July 19th, we're in the same situation as we are today: even more negotiations as we approach the first scheduled preseason game.
One of the holdups last week, according to the Washington Post, was an agreement on a rookie wage scale:
The league wants to significantly curb the amount of guaranteed money in the contracts of players selected early in the NFL draft. People familiar with the talks said the players’ side is willing to agree to a system that diverts money from rookies to veterans. But the players are resisting a system as restrictive as what the league is seeking, those people said.
The two sides apparently are at odds mostly over how such a system would work for the players drafted in the upper portion of the first round, perhaps the first eight or so players selected. The length of the contracts to which those players could be signed could be an issue, along with the amount of guaranteed money in their contracts.
The Washington Post outlines a few other issues, but on the surface is still seems like there is no reason a deal cannot be worked out in the next week. Hopefully we'll be surfing Twitter one day this week and see something like #nfllockoutisover as a trending topic. The regular season is just a little over two months away, and it's time for the Browns and the 31 other teams in the league to start getting prepared.