Reporting Tim Kephart
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End Of An Era
NEW YORK (CBSMiami.com) – Miami Dolphins fans and sports writers continue to be teased that an end to the NFL lockout is near. But, according to New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees; the deal is “very close.”
“We’re very close to a settlement,” Brees told XX Sports Radio in San Diego. “We’re at that point in the negotiations where there’s just a few more details that need to be ironed out.”
And it seems that overall, the time for negotiations seems to be over and the time for a deal is near for the NFL and the NFL Players Association. After the lockout reached its fourth month Tuesday, teams of negotiators are currently trying to iron the language of a new collective bargaining agreement.
“We believe the overall proposal made by the players is fair for both sides it is time to get this deal done,” read a statement from Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning. “This is our time of year we as players turn our attention to the game on the field. We hope the owners feel the same way.”
“We share the view that now is the time to reach an agreement so we can all get back to football and a full 2011 season,” the NFL said. “We are working hard with the players’ negotiating team every day to complete an agreement as soon as possible.”
Of course Dolphins fans and NFL fans in general, have been told a deal is near. First it was June 30 was the deadline, and then it got delayed to July 7, July 17, and even July 21. The main thing every fan is waiting on is for the work stoppage to finally be over.
A who’s who of owners and players are in the ongoing negotiations including: Jerry Jones, Robert Craft, Art Rooney II, Jeff Saturday, Domonique Foxworth, and retired player Pete Kendall. The negotiations added Tyson Clabo Wednesday, who is representing the various free agents impacted by the lockout, according to NFL.com.
Typically, free agency would begin when the new league year started. But since the lockout is in place, the league year has been delayed until a new CBA is reached. This has put free agents behind in finding a team and creating a potential free-for-all when free agency does finally begin.
The lockout has also impacted the ability of rookies like Mike Pouncey and Daniel Thomas to learn the new playbook of the Dolphins. Rookie quarterbacks like Cam Newton will be especially impacted by the lack of prep time with the team’s playbook.
The seemingly lone remaining issue stopping the negotiations revolves around the rookie wage scale. The owners want longer contracts, but the players feel that is imposing a veteran wage scale by limiting earning power for early first round picks who will sign contracts worth much less than last year.
But, there also remains the sticky issue of how to deal with the pending free agents. The owners want the opportunity to retain 3 free agents from their team this year, but players have said that is not an option.
In addition, there is the issue of restricted free agents and franchise players. Many players were tagged as restricted free agents under 2010 rules, which will not apply in the new deal. That means the free agent crop could get even bigger.
For the Fins, they still need offensive line help, another quarterback or two, a running back/scat back, and backup outside linebackers.
The biggest name quarterback actually on the open market is Vince Young. He’s a high-risk, high-reward player who can either help an average team win games, or become a team obliterator in the likes of Terrell Owens.
If Young has matured, and the Dolphins feel like he can be a quarterback of the future, he’s worth the risk based on his ability. But that’s a mighty big If the Fins would have to answer in a hurry when free agency begins.
Still, everything revolves around getting the CBA done in short order. The owners have a scheduled meeting on July 21 and if a deal has been agreed upon before then; the owners can put it to a vote at that time.