Limbo


Marvin Lewis

Updated: 6:15 p.m.

Amid conflicting reports when the players are going to meet again, ProFootballTalk.com reported late Friday afternoon that they could meet over the weekend and approve a deal that ends the NFL lockout.

There is still optimism it gets done quickly once the players are satisfied they aren't being pushed into a deal they haven't studied and NFL Network indicated the sides are still trying to hammer out details.

"I think guys at first were angry yesterday because the first time we heard about the proposal was on TV when they voted on it," Bengals alternate player rep Reggie Kelly told The Cincinnati Enquirer. "You need to negotiate and do it the right way. People have started to cool off. It's not about egos and personal feelings. Its a business. All in all it's going to work out and we're going to be ready to play."

As the players regrouped Friday, some of the Bengals training camp furniture showed up at Georgetown. It looks like as long as the Bengals can get two weeks on the Georgetown, Ky., campus before they have to be out by Aug. 22, they're set to make the trip but it looks to be a fluid situation. If there can be an agreement early next week, the Bengals could still make the trip.

"We're keeping communication open with the Bengals and are doing some last-minute things today," said Todd Gambill, Georgetown's dean of students, Friday morning. "They've already got some stuff here. We're ready to go. At some point the Bengals are going to have to decide if there is going to be enough time for a camp."

It's believed teams have to be in camp at least 10 days before their first preseason game, meaning the Bengals would have to be in by Aug. 2 for the game in Detroit. The Bengals had hoped to get players in by Wednesday for physicals before they report Thursday. It's unclear when camp would begin to get pushed back from the Thursday report date, but the clock would seem to start ticking Monday.

With Saturday's proposed start of business including talking to free agents and opening the facilities getting blown up, it appears that it will take a day to get the gears going once the players approve the CBA and commit to recertification.

The players said in a statement Friday morning that their leadership is looking at the proposal approved by the owners Thursday as well as "the right process for addressing recertification." But it would not have any more announcements Friday out of respect for the family of Patriots owner Bob Kraft as it mourns the loss of his wife Myra.

It still seems an agreement is on track, but it's coming down to legalese and the mechanics of getting signatures for recertification. A big problem seems to be the owners' Tuesday deadline for the NFL Players Association to recertify.

Bengals president Mike Brown, along with vice presidents Katie and Troy Blackburn and Paul Brown spent Friday at the NFL's seminar on the nuts and bolts of the CBA. Then they plan to meet with the rest of the club's negotiators at Paul Brown Stadium on Saturday morning to educate them on the new deal, but uncertain of when they'll be able to use it.

Before the players opted not to vote Thursday, teams could have hit the ground Saturday by being allowed to negotiate with, but not sign, undrafted rookies and other clubs' free agents while being able to sign their draft picks and own free agents. And they could have been allowed to sign everybody by Wednesday, but now that schedule appears to be on a day-to-day basis.

Team officials were told in the CBA seminar that recertification would be handled by players signing cards on site once the facilities open.

There were also reports that the new Game Day activation list would consist of 46 players instead of 45 that didn't count an emergency quarterback.

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis also has to sit down with Brown and his staff to go through the new practice rules, particularly the limit of 14 padded practices per season, which 11 must come in the first 11 weeks. But it's unclear if shells on the shoulders count as pads. Plus, with two-a-days no longer allowed in camp, Lewis, who usually had five or six, needs to find out exactly what constitues a practice and a walkthrough.

Also yet to be fleshed out is the new rookie pool. It will be reduced and simplified with a hard cap number involving no option bonuses or voidable years. But teams weren't given the amount of their rookie pool allotment.  

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