This past week has likely brought the best string of good news to come out of this painstakingly long lockout. The two sides agreed on a rookie wage scale and salary cap on Thursday and free agency rules for 2011 on Friday.
This comes after stalled talks the week before and numerous other weeks of little to no progress, endless speculation, and much more wishful thinking and optimism than actual evidence that anything would ever get resolved.
Despite the good news, there are still many unresolved issues that need to be addressed before we can even begin thinking about getting back to regular football talk. Things ranging from lost benefits for players and the use of the franchise tag on unrestricted free agents to workman’s compensation, training camp practices, offseason workouts and more remain on the table.
The good news, though, is that the owners and players will meet on Monday and Tuesday with a mediator in order to hammer out the rest of these unresolved points of the lockout. If both sides can finally come to an agreement on a new CBA over the course of those two days, the owners would then ratify it on Thursday at the league meetings in Atlanta.
The end of this lockout could very well be in sight. What would follow would be a frenzied free agency period and a return to normalcy within the league, allowing us to look forward to training camps, the preseason and, finally, the regular season. And at this point, nothing could be better than that.