Lawyers and negotiating teams for the NFL and NFL Players Association remained in close contact Sunday, hammering out the final details of a new labor agreement, while NFLPA executive committee members headed to Washington to recommend a new deal for player representatives to vote on, according to sources involved in the process.
A few issues still must be resolved, but there are strong expectations that both parties will be in position to ratify a deal Monday, with team facilities possibly opening as soon as Wednesday.
The parties continue to work on a timeline for transition rules, with teams believing they might need more than three days from the opening of facilities until the start of the league year and free agency.
Teams need to see 30 or more players in many cases to be ready for camp and also need time to digest rules, rework contracts and try to re-sign their own free agents.
Timelines being discussed could include free agency possibly starting Sunday, July 31, and training camps right around that time. Final issues remain on how and when union recertification would take place.
Discussions remain on possible contingencies if it takes longer than expected to have a collective bargaining agreement fully ratified; and certain issues involving the drug policy and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's powers in off-the-field discipline cannot be formally signed off until after the union has recertified and a deal is reached.
Other details being discussed included whether or not a practice in shells would count as a "padded practice" or a "walk-through" in regards to the limits on padded practices in the new agreement. Also, according to sources with knowledge of the situation, the parties are determining whether or not roster bonuses from the 2011 offseason will be due on the first day of the league year, or perhaps the second day or shortly thereafter.
However, the issue of lost workout bonuses from the lockout has been resolved, sources said. Players due those bonuses must report for the start of camp. If they fulfill all duties and are on their team's roster in Week 1, then they will receive the full amount.
If they are not on the team at the start of the league year or the season, then they will receive a predetermined percentage of that total, with different tiers built in for different levels of bonuses. For instance, according to a source, if a player had a workout bonus between $250,000 and $500,000 and he is released at the start of the league year, he would receive $100,000 of that bonus.