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Owners receive update on CBA mediation from NFL officials

INDIANAPOLIS -- The ownership's labor committee convened on Friday at the Colts' facility in suburban Indianapolis, getting an update on the collective bargaining agreement negotiations that took place this past week in front of federal mediator George Cohen in Washington, D.C.

League officials who took part in the federal mediation -- including Commissioner Roger Goodell, general council Jeff Pash and outside council Bob Batterman -- briefed the ownership group on the happenings of those seven days. In attendance were committee co-chairs Jerry Richardson (Carolina Panthers) and Pat Bowlen (Denver Broncos) as well as Art Rooney (Pittsburgh Steelers), Clark Hunt (Kansas City Chiefs), Mark Murphy (Green Bay Packers), John Mara (New York Giants), Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys), Dean Spanos (San Diego Chargers), Mike Brown (Cincinnati Bengals) and Robert Kraft (New England Patriots).

No owners were in attendance in Washington.

The league officials also spent 45 minutes Friday updating team decision-makers about the mediation and possible contingency plans if the current CBA expires March 3 without a new agreement in place. The NFL Players Association has assumed the owners will lock players out on March 4.

"Everyone is building their team the same way. You'll have the draft, you'll have free agency, none of those things are going away," Kansas City Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli said Saturday. "It all is going to be there at some point, and you're going to build your team the way you build your team."

Agents also expect a salary cap to be part of the eventual deal. The latest meeting in Indianapolis was another odd twist on one of the NFL's biggest and busiest offseason events. Suddenly, all that talk about big-time picks like Cam Newton and Nick Fairley has been overshadowed by the continual meetings about the looming lockout.

On Thursday night, league officials met with head coaches and general managers. Jacksonville Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio described the meeting as "informational."

On Friday, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith took his turn. He spent two hours updating agents on the negotiations, then the union put four prominent agents -- Tom Condon, Ben Dogra, Drew Rosenhaus and Joel Segal -- side-by-side in a show of unity for Smith and the players.

Three blocks away, at Lucas Oil Stadium, the site of next year's Super Bowl, prospective rookies were working out at the same time agents began tweeting that potential rookies would not be allowed to talk with team officials if the CBA expires. Union and league spokesmen quickly said that was untrue.

On Saturday, word leaked about Goodell's meeting on the city's west side. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello did not provide details of the most recent discussions.

After Thursday's round of mediation at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service wrapped up, Cohen issued a statement saying players and owners have made "some progress" but "very strong differences" remain. The sides will resume talks on March 1 in Cohen's office.

Tuesday's meeting back at the FMCS runs right into an owners meeting scheduled for March 2 and 3 in nearby Chantilly, Va.

During nearly 50 hours of talks during the course of seven days in Washington, 10 players made it, including nine of 11 members of the executive committee. Only NFLPA president Kevin Mawae and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who was expected to appear at sessions in Indianapolis at the combine, didn't make an appearance among that group.

A cone of silence over these talks remains in place, with both sides expected to stay quiet.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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