WASHINGTON — The NFL's players and owners have agreed on a deal to end the league's four-month lockout, several media outlets, including ESPN and CBS, reported Sunday.
As players and teams made preparations to return to work, representatives of the league and players worked to try to have an official, written version of their 10-year collective bargaining agreement ready for player leaders to review today.
"I think there will be some good news coming out (today)," Vikings guard and players union rep Steve Hutchinson told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
The major elements of the deal essentially were in place, the Washington Post and others reported. Members of the players' ruling executive committee are scheduled to meet today in Washington and are likely to recommend approval of the labor deal to the whole group of players.
The deal must be ratified by a majority of the close to 2,000 NFL players to take effect, but that should be a rubber stamp if the executive committee recommends such ratification.
NFL Network obtained a copy of an e-mail sent by Saints quarterback Drew Brees to teammates in which Brees wrote, "The deal is almost done."
Brees is one of 10 plaintiffs in a players' lawsuit against the league — a list that also includes fellow star quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning — and they must officially tell a court in Minneapolis of their approval of the pact.
Players also will need to vote to re-establish the NFL Players Association as a union; only after that happens could a full collective bargaining agreement be reached. But training camps and preseason games could occur as the sides put the finishing touches on a deal.
Agents told players late Saturday and Sunday to be ready to report to team facilities at midweek for voluntary workouts and to prepare to report to training camps late this week. Team front offices were gearing up for the expected start of free agency.
Some players reacted angrily after the owners voted, 31-0 with one abstention by the Raiders, on Thursday in Atlanta to approve the labor deal and conditionally end the lockout in stages, based on ratification of the agreement by the players' side.
Some players said Thursday night that the owners had pulled a public relations maneuver to pressure the players. Those players said not all of the terms of the agreement were complete, and the owners had ratified some provisions that hadn't been negotiated with the players.
But DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFLPA, moved the players toward resolution of the final details necessary to complete the agreement, the Post reported.
Among the major economic components on the table were a salary cap system giving the players just less than half the revenues, and a rookie pay system to curb the amount of guaranteed money in rookies' contracts.
Among the provisions that need to be worked out after the players have re-formed their union are drug-testing matters, pension issues and matters related to the sport's disability board.
A solution to the four-month lockout, the NFL's first work stoppage since 1987, would come too late to save the Hall of Fame game on Aug. 7. It was canceled Thursday by the league.
However, no other cancellations would be needed. The preseason is scheduled to begin Aug. 11 with Seattle at San Diego. Green Bay is set to host New Orleans in the regular-season kickoff Sept. 8 in a meeting of the past two Super Bowl champions.
FAVRE TWEETS: There is almost no chance the Eagles will sign retired quarterback Brett Favre to back up Michael Vick, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. WIP-AM reported over the weekend that the Eagles were interested in the 41-year-old and a post on Vick's Twitter account said, "I would be honored to have Brett Favre as a backup." But the post was taken down hours later and Vick later told Comcast SportsNet that someone else must have written it.
BANTA-CAIN SURGERY: Patriots linebacker Tully Banta-Cain had surgery Friday for an abdominal strain and will miss at least four weeks, the Boston Globe reported that