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NFL Lockout: End of lockout not a lock, preseason games in jeopardy

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Not so fast with that key.
Not so fast with that key.

In this morning's post I mentioned a report from Jay Glazer of Fox Sports that said NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith told a group of the league's top players that a deal to end the NFL lockout was not as close as most thought. A number of other media figures disputed Glazer's report. Unfortunately, the notion that the NFL lockout is not close to being resolved got even more supporting evidence this morning.

Daniel Kaplan of the Sports Business Journal tweeted that among owners there is a feeling similar to what Glazer talked about on the players' side, i.e. that a deal was not close.

Here's Kaplan:

Can confirm similiar sentiments on the league side to what Fox Sports reported saying NFLPA told players deal still has a lot of work...

and

...told preseason games still in jeopardy

So much for all that optimism. 

As to what could be holding up a potential deal, besides speculation about lawyers maneuvering, Glazer touches on some sticking points in his report. Among the issues is free agency. Specifically, the owners worry about the flooded market with four-year players now qualifying for unrestricted free agency. Per the report, Smith said that owners would only consent to the old free agency rules if they get three right of first refusal tags for players, on top of franchise and transition tags. 

Those tags could significantly alter the St. Louis Rams' approach to free agency, with notable targets such as DTs Barry Cofield and Brandon Mebane possible targets for those extra tags. 

That could be the sticking point, or one of them, that has been talked about as owners trying to exact a few more concessions from players. Having had free agency stymied last year, players are hungry for free agency, especially with teams likely required to spend more than 90 percent of their cap space on salaries. 

It's worth pointing out that Glazer works with a number of NFL players who workout in the offseason with his MMA training program. Rams DT Chris Long has been one of those players, though I'm not sure if he still does it. 

The Rams are scheduled to open training camp on July 23. Any further delays puts that date at risk.