Through two negotiating sessions centered around extending the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, talks between the NFL and NFLPA have been described as "cordial" and "amicable" by multiple sources.
While sources on both sides mention how early things are, and how the talks have been mostly conceptual, there is already some optimism at the possibility of extending the deal without a lockout.
Though it's possible a deal could be reached before the 2019 season, negotiations would have to ramp up considerably. Unless the pace changes, that's not seen as feasible. Perhaps more likely is a deal next spring, a year before the CBA expires following the 2020 season.
One source went as far as saying, as of now, there are disagreements but no contentious issues like last time. "Nothing that would make it blow up," as of now, one person briefed on the talks said.
There is a strong feeling the issues are resolvable.
Among the key issues that have emerged is stadium credits. That's money the owners use to pay for new stadiums or improvements, coming off the top of the pie and not being factored into the salary cap.
The NFL wants more money allocated, while the union isn't sure it's getting its money's worth. In addition, the DirecTV contract that expires after the season has become somewhat of a factor, with the thought being that a deal could be done before DirecTV either strikes a new deal or the NFL looks to a new company.
In short, talks are moving in the right direction.
There are a couple reasons why the temperature has been lowered in both the relationship and the public rhetoric between the sides in the last year or more. One, they settled the anthem issue quietly. The entire relationship is much less contentious than it was only recently.
Another reason is, both sides are making money. The salary cap is $188.2 million, for instance, a more than a $10 million increase from the 2018 cap number of $177.2 million. It was the sixth straight year the cap rose by more than $10 million. The previous deal was mutually beneficial.
It seems, early on, the NFL and NFLPA are in a good place.