The NFL opens its fall meeting Monday in Washington D.C., with several outstanding issues to be resolved with the players' union.
NFL Players Association headquarters is located just three blocks from the league's hotel for its summit, but the parties haven't scheduled meetings for the time when the owners are in town. A union source said the league didn't reach out to plan any talks for this week, though a league source indicated the NFL is very open to hearing any and all proposals the NFLPA has.
The highest-profile issues are human growth hormone testing of players and the problems within the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' organization over the last two months. The former has been a hot-button topic for more than two years, and the latter has been a major issue for the union's membership over the last few weeks.
According to a union source, the sides haven't discussed HGH testing in two weeks, with talks at a standstill and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's power over non-positive tests remaining the lone significant sticking point.
Per a league source, the NFL initially wanted a 10-game suspension for repeat HGH offenders, and the union wanted six. The league agreed to go down to eight games but only if the commissioner retained his appeal power.
Meanwhile, the league and union still are working out a strategy on how to approach and fully investigate the MRSA and confidentiality breach issues in Tampa. The union is considering proposing league-wide protocol on staph infections in an effort to tighten up policy and also has discussed formalizing the process in looking into confidentiality issues like the one involving former quarterback Josh Freeman last week.
Among the other issues that remain between the NFL and NFLPA:
» On-field fines: The union is looking for the league to consider capping on-field fines based on players' salaries. The idea would be to create an equality in the way a $600,000 player and a $6 million player is punished.
» Harvard funding: The NFLPA selected Harvard last winter to lead a $100 million accelerated research initiative to work on treating and preventing the health-and-safety issues facing players at all levels of football. The union still is working on a plan to allocate those funds and would like to meet with the league on that, according to sources on both sides.
» International Series: With the league broadening its plans and the idea of a third London game on the table, the union hasn't been formally approached about a change in working conditions, something it believes should happen as the international initiative grows.
» League calendar: There also haven't been talks on the broad changes that have been floated, with the 2014 draft moving to May and the long-range idea of repositioning the scouting combine and free agency out there.