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Labor deal nearing

Posted by Greg A. Bedard  July 24, 2011 09:02 PM

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The National Football League and its players continued to make progress today toward a final deal to put the 135-day lockout behind both sides, and that decision could come as soon as tomorrow.

The NFL Players Association executive committee is scheduled meet tomorrow at its headquarters in Washington, D.C. The hope is that the complete global settlement agreement would be in place so it could hold a vote, but sources said it’s not certain to happen.

Even though the NFLPA has prepared for a Monday press conference, there’s a chance the vote could spill over into Tuesday.

The list of seven outstanding issues the NFLPA had with the owners’ proposal is now down to two: the seven-year opt out, which the players want and owners don’t, and the plan for the recertification of the union.

The players want the opt-out, which would apply to both sides, to protect itself in case the agreement isn’t quite as fair as it appears. The owners want a full 10-year commitment because it would make negotiating the next round of television contracts easier and more lucrative.

Once the executive committee gives its blessing, then it moves to the 32 player reps, who will likely be assembled via conference call. If they are on board, then football would be back in the business.

The 10 plaintiffs in the Brady v. NFL antitrust case, including quarterback Tom Brady and guard Logan Mankins of the Patriots, would also have to sign off on the deal as well. Some of the plaintiffs will be in Washington to discuss the deal with the board. Brady and Mankins were not expected to attend.

The lockout is tentatively scheduled to be lifted Wednesday, when teams could welcome their players back to their facilities and begin making moves on their roster and negotiating, but not signing, other free agents.

Training camps and the league year – including the regular free-agent period -- could start on Saturday, if the over 1,900 players vote to reform as a union, and approve the new collective bargaining agreement with a majority vote.

ESPN reported that the NFL and the players had reached an agreement on all remaining points, and lockout was all but over.

Both sides said the deal was not yet finished, and a top NFL source cautioned that nothing is done until 1,000 players vote yes on the collective bargaining agreement.

The details on recertification were still being worked out Sunday afternoon. There’s a chance it could take up to two weeks. Players would be signed to provisional contracts, contingent on recertification. When the deal is finally signed, it will probably be more simple than that.

ProFootballTalk.com reported the Eller class of the antitrust lawsuit representing retired players, still had the power to holdup a deal.

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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