As first reported by Chris Mortensen for ESPN earlier this morning, the NFL and the former players union are once again holding face to face meetings where the main focus is on working out a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
This latest round of talks is being held outside of Washington D.C. (somewhere in Maryland, reportedly) and unlike the last two sessions, both sides have included outside council in their negotiating teams.
Also from this morning, Mark Maske at the Washington Post gives us the following:
The NFL and locked out players have made enough progress in their recent negotiations that a deal between the two sides is within reach during the next two or three weeks, people on both sides of the dispute said Tuesday.
Now, football fans are no doubt thrilled to read the bolded part, but any enthusiasm needs to be tempered - at least a bit. But the signs are good, especially in light of Eric Edholm's report in ProFootballWeekly last week:
Sources have indicated to PFW that June 21, which is when the NFL owners are scheduled to meet in Chicago, might be a date to circle on the calendar. The reason for the escalated talks might indicate that the owners want to have a deal — or parameters of a deal — to vote on when they all assemble for the meeting.
Couple that with this from Adam Schefter this morning:
FWIW: League sent memo to teams last night, advising them to be prepared to stay overnight during next Tuesday's NFL meetings in Chicago.
It's clear that next week will be pivotal in the attempts to get an agreement between the two parties in time enough to save training camp and the regularly scheduled start of the 2011 season.