Buying time to try to close big gaps on big issues, the NFL and the players' union agreed Friday to extend the deadline for negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement by a week.
The current labor deal had been set to run out Thursday night. But the sides used an initial 24-hour extension to discuss and vote on the second, lengthier delay. Now the league and union will take a break over the weekend to assess their positions. They’ll resume mediation Monday, then have until the end of next Friday to talk.
“The fact that we’re continuing this dialogue is a positive sign,” commissioner Roger Goodell said.
Although the seven-day extension is a signal that the owners and players might avoid a protracted work stoppage and legal skirmish, it’s clear that they are not close to a new CBA.
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“It’s a challenge. We’ve got significant differences,” NFL general counsel and lead labor negotiator Jeff Pash said.
A person with knowledge of the negotiations said that the NFLPA has not agreed to any major economic concessions and the NFL has not agreed to the union’s demand that the league open its books and share all financial information.
No one would say whether another extension would be possible next Friday.
If the sides hadn’t extended the CBA, the union was prepared to decertify Thursday, meaning that it no longer would represent the players, who would be giving up their rights under labor law and instead take their chances in court under antitrust law. The NFLPA took that course in 1989.
The owners, meanwhile, could have locked out the players, raising the specter of games lost to a work stoppage for the first time since the players’ strike in 1987.
Former New York Giants Super Bowl star Plaxico Burress is scheduled to be released from prison June 6 after officials agreed to shave about three months off his time behind bars for attempted criminal possession of a weapon. The Green Bay Packers signed coach Mike McCarthy to a contract extension. Former Oakland Raiders defensive end Anthony Smith and two others were charged with murder in the 2008 beating and shooting death of a 31-year-old man in Los Angeles County.