Sal Paolantonio tells ESPN that now that players and owners are in agreement on a rookie pay scale, the two sides are charging toward a resolution of the NFL Lockout.
Critically, the two sides have agreed, for now, to set the salary cap at $120 million in 2011. Some teams currently spend more, so the agreement would allow for a one-player cap exemption.
The talks finished at 10:00 PM Eastern on Thursday and are expected to continue at 9:00 AM Friday. Sources speaking to several ESPN correspondents characterized Thursday's developments as very positive, with one player noting a "sense of urgency" in Thursday's negotiations.
This isn't to say that it's a certainty that the lockout will end soon. Albert Breer, for example, quotes a source telling him that there are still "real stumbling blocks."
But Thursday has to be seen as a huge positive. There are a number of issues that have yet to be resolved, but the two sides took care of two of the biggest ones on Thursday. With the NFL Preseason schedule coming up quickly, there is plenty of incentive for the two sides to reach an agreement and play a full preseason slate. Let's hope negotiations continue to move quickly on Friday.
For more on the NFL Lockout, check out the rest of this storystream.