For a while, an NFL lockout next spring seemed like an inevitability.
But today Patriots owner Robert Kraft gave some positive comments at the fall league meetings in Chicago, going so far as to say he believes the league and the NFL Players' Association can reach an agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement by the end of this season.
"We're moving ahead. I'd like to see this get done before the season ends," Kraft told the Associated Press. Asked if that was a realistic objective, he added "to me it is."
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said, "Our issue is to get there sooner rather than later, bargaining in good faith and get an agreement with the players that is fair."
In an email, NFLPA president Kevin Mawae told the AP: "We should recognize the business we are both in and for our fans and workers, let's wrap this up by the holidays. I agree on both time and energy. Since 2006, the players contributed almost $3 billion to stadium construction and improvements, so our investment is at risk, too. The players are the ones losing their health care, and yet it was the owners who opted out of this deal and are threatening a lockout."
The current CBA expires in March, and NFLPA officials fully expect players to be locked out if a new agreement isn't in place.
However, in recent weeks the two sides have been holding talks, and late last month issued a joint statement after negotiations in Washington, D.C., which was seen as a positive sign.