It's Friday morning and we still don't have assurances from the league and union that a new Collective Bargaining Agreement will be struck avoiding an NFL lockout. However, there is some optimism out there.
Here's a look at what you need to know about the NFL labor negotiations as of Friday morning.
When is the deadline to get a deal done?
The current deadline is 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Friday night. The original deadline was at the same time on Thursday night but the two sides agreed to a 24-hour extension, thus the new deadline.
Why did they extend the talks?
Common sense suggests that extending the talks is a sign of some sort of progress. Reports indicate that the owners made some sort of proposal to the union, which the union apparently saw as a good sign, and agreed to extend. It was the owners -- and not the players -- who originally pushed for the extension. That tells us the players likely have some leverage.
What does the 24-hour extension mean?
Officially, it means nothing. Reading the tea leaves, an extension sets the stage for the two sides to agree to another extension -- likely 7-10 days, according to reports -- in order to hammer out a new deal. For fans, the extension means football lives for another day. It also increases the chances that a deal is struck in March -- and not August.
Who holds the upper hand right now?
It's unclear who's winning the battle right now but there are indications that the players hold the leverage. If the two sides can't come to an agreement, the union will reportedly decertify and turn around and file an antitrust lawsuit. Reports indicate that, as of Thursday afternoon, the union had all the necessary paperwork in order to file, which likely caused the league to push for an extension. The league does not want any scenario where their antitrust exemptions can be challenged.
What's the best news we can hear on Friday?
Obviously the best news would be that the two sides agree to a deal -- that's unlikely though. So the next best news is that the two sides agree to another extension -- 7-10 days -- in order to continue working on a deal.
What's the worst news we can hear on Friday?
That the two sides don't come to another extension. If that's the case, the NFLPA would file for decertification by early Friday evening and the legal wheels will be in motion. As a fan, you don't want to hear the word "decertification" anymore. That move would be a necessary one from the union's perspective but it would also likely mean the NFL would respond with a lockout and the future of football would be in the hands of the courts.
What's your prediction?
My prediction is that the federal mediator convinces both sides to take a 7-10 day extension and that sets the stage to complete a long-term agreement. Considering the consequences of not doing this, I feel this is in everyone's best interests.