FLORHAM PARK, NJ — Can it really be? Am I dreaming? We’ve all been hearing it, I’m just not sure if I want to say it out loud. We all blame the guy in the room who obnoxiously points out when a pitcher has a no-hitter brewing in the sixth inning. This article is starting to make me feel like that guy.

And yet I continue to type.

Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum will most likely be in Atlanta for the hopeful ratifacation of the CBA. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

With my fingers-crossed and my double-jinxies already voiced. That’s how I’ve been watching ESPN, NFL Network and surfing NFL rumor sites. And that’s how I’ll conduct the rest of this article. It’s been difficult to religiously follow the Adam Schefter’s and Chris Mortesen’s of the world throughout the duration of the 125-day lockout as there are constant conflicting reports on a process that has – for the majority of the lockout – been a 2-step forward 1-step back process. However, these recent reports that the lockout is coming to an end have been on-point across the board.

I know, we’ve been duped before. We’ve heard this story. And to be quite honest, I couldn’t be upset if you didn’t believe these recent reports. Fool me once – shame on you. Fool me twice – shame on me. Call me an optimist, here, but I’m buying it. Here’s a statement from the player’s union and the owners on June 15 regarding their recent advances:

The discussions this week have been constructive and progress has been made on a wide range of issues. Our legal and financial teams will continue to work through the weekend. We will continue to respect the confidentiality orders of Chief Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan and will therefore refrain from commenting on specific issues or aspects of the negotiations. We will provide additional information as developments in this process continue. – via NFLLockout.com

Still don’t buy it? Carolina Panthers TE Jeremey Shockey has been making news all over sports gossip sites, like Flopping Out, that he’s been telling people that the deal is done. Additionally he told BustedCoverage.com that his Panthers will report to training camp for a three-day session from July 22nd-25th.

Now, given where this information is coming from, I still understand if you don’t buy it. But here’s what’s left to be done and, IF a deal is to be struck by the June 21st reported ratification,  the post-lockout timeline:

  • July 13th – Ravens CB Dominique Foxworth informs owners of Player Union’s secret insurance account that would pay players $200,000 each if season was canceled.
  • July 14th – Owners/Players reach agreement regarding rookie salaries; agreed on 4-year base deals with team option for a fifth with predetermined salary bast of past performance.
  • July 15th – Owners abandon their fight on the Right of First Refusal for FA players; basically means that teams wouldn’t be able to retain potential FA simply by matching an outside team’s initial offer.
  • July 20th-21th – Players vote on new CBA, and recertify as a union.
  • July 21st – Owners meet in Atlanta to ratify new CBA; team executives will be invited for crash-course on CBA.
  • July 22nd -June 24th – 72-hour period where teams will be aloud to re-sign their own impending FA.
  • July 25th – Start of free agency and training camps.

Possible obstacles in way of the above-mentioned timeline:

  • Re-establishing the union: That is the first step in settling the lawsuits of individual players.
  • Settling the lawsuits against individual players: Tom Brady v. NFL, Logan Mankins/Vincent Jackson disputes.
  • Settling the lawsuit over TV revenue sharing against Doty TV: The case where players accused the owners of setting up a “lockout insurance”.

George Atallah, who is the Assistant Executive Director of External Affairs for the NFL Players Association, stated very poignantly that, despite the recent positive events, there’s still a lot of work to be done. “Nobody cheers for you on the 25th-mile of a marathon.
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