As the union and the league head toward a midnight deadline for coming to a new collective bargaining agreement, both sides now are talking extension.
With the victory in court by the NFLPA on Tuesday, have the owners begun to cave? Will we see a new deal now that the owner's stockpile of Lockout cash has been eliminated?
The situation is very fluid, and the deadline finally got both sides serious about negotiations.
While information about what is going on in the negotiations is scarce due to the "cone of silence" everyone is adhering to, the fact word of an extension in the talks has leaked out is a positive sign.
The players say they are willing to give some of the money being talked about back to the owners, but they do not like how far the pendulum would swing under the owner's proposal.
The fact is that the pendulum is firmly on the player's side at the moment, and the players are reluctant to give that up.
What the players are trying to do is to keep the pendulum from swinging too far back on to the owner's side and keep it at a happy medium. In order to do that, they have to see what the owners really are spending.
For the owners to keep the upper hand in the talks, it is in their best interests to keep those books closed.
With the decision by the Minnesota court on Tuesday, though, the owners just lost a lot of leverage for weathering a lockout. The plan most likely was to just outlast the players and get what they wanted after players started missing checks and seeing their bills start coming due.
While the players make a lot of money, most of them spend a lot of money as well. Maintaining certain lifestyles is not cheap. The union told players to avoid big purchases and to save their last few game checks. They did that for good reason.
When it comes to money, the owners have plenty, but it is not limitless—thus the cash stockpile that became the focus of this week's court decision.
The owners may see everything leading up to this point as a setback, but it is not. If the court decision gets the two sides closer to a deal, that is a victory, even if the owners technically lost that round.
In a lockout, there are no winners. The owners may outlast the players, but they still will lose money.
The most likely scenario as of this writing is the owners will make some kind of concession to the players—my hunch is that the 18-game schedule comes off the table. With that concession, and possibly a few other financial-related items, the players agree to not decertify and keep talking.
The biggest problem in settling things after the CBA expires is if the players decertify. A deal still eventually would get done, but it would be much tougher, and at least a portion of the 2011 season could be lost.
Between the court victory, and the possibility of an extension, there is hope a deal can be done before the draft, and the rest of the year can proceed as "normal."