The NFL lockout meetings are still in a critical phase, with talks teetering on the edge of a cliff as training camp nears. Though progress has been made, the month of July is critical, and could make-or-break plans to get a full season of play, including a full training camp, in. Last week illustrated the point clearly -- talks nearly broke down during a marathon session on Thursday before getting back on track in the wee hours of the night.
On Tuesday, talks resumed in New York, with lawyers entering the fray to draft preliminary language for an agreement. While it may seem like a positive sign, the presence of lawyers does not necessarily mean a deal is imminent. Instead, look at it as a preemptive measure aimed at speeding up the process of completing a new collective bargaining agreement, whenever it is the two sides are able to reach an understanding.
Sources on both sides maintain there remains significant work to be completed after negotiations almost disintegrated last week before "getting back on track." The same sources say that an agreement is within reach but unlikely to be achieved this week.
However, the attorneys' work on language is aimed at an expedited finishing process in the event the two sides do strike an agreement. Tuesday is Day 112 of the lockout.
Truth be told, nobody has an idea when the NFL lockout may come to an end. While few believe a deal will be agreed upon this week, it's possible the owners and players could come to an agreement by the end of the month.
However, with the scheduled start date of training camp fast approaching, it's still unclear whether teams will be able to get a full slate of training camp sessions and exhibition games in. After all, once a deal is reached, whenever that may be, the NFL offseason must then begin, allowing teams to sign free agents and go through the typical transactions that normally occur in the late spring and early summer months.