The NFL's labor negotiations resumed Tuesday with little optimism that a settlement can be reached to avert open confrontation between owners and players when their collective bargaining agreement expires Friday.
Federal mediator George Cohen, attempting to avoid a showdown, brought together NFL and players’ union negotiators in Washington, D.C., for more talks. If he fails, players could be locked out by franchise owners.
Meanwhile, the NFL Players Association gained a victory Tuesday when a federal judge ruled in its favor in a complaint over the owners’ $4 billion in annual television revenue. The players contend that the money, which would continue flowing to owners during a work stoppage, amounts to a lockout fund.
U.S. District Judge David Doty wrote that he would hold a hearing to consider damages and other remedies. The union has asked that the money be withheld from owners if players are locked out.
The central issue in the dispute is how owners and players should share the sport’s approximately $9 billion in annual revenue under a salary cap system. The owners also want to install a rookie wage scale and extend the regular season to 18 games.
Sources throughout the sport said they didn’t believe a settlement was within reach. Mediation will resume today. As he left the meeting Tuesday, Seattle Seahawks offensive lineman Chester Pitts said he was “cautiously optimistic” a settlement could be reached. “It’s two groups doing business,” Pitts said. “The tone, none of that matters.”
New York Giants co-owner John Mara was the first owner to participate in the mediated negotiations.
The Jets placed a first- and third-round tender on cornerback Antonio Cromartie and wide receiver Santonio Holmes, and linebacker David Harris signed his franchise tender. ... The Redskins released out-of-position linebacker Andre Carter and high-priced backup guard Derrick Dockery. ... Buffalo safety George Wilson signed a three-year contract extension. ... Dallas offered left tackle Doug Free the highest contract tender offer, worth about $3.5 million. Defensive ends Stephen Bowen and Jason Hatcher received tenders worth about $1.9 million. .... Defensive lineman Marcus Stroud signed a two-year deal with the Patriots, according to ESPN.com. ... Donovin Darius, released by Buffalo last month, signed a one-day contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars so he can retire with his former team.