In case you missed it, Sports Illustrated's Jim Trotter made a rather bold prediction this week. He said to look for a new CBA in the middle of next week. Whoa now guys. I know what you're thinking. Did I misinterpret what he really said? Is he crazy? Is he right? What if he is right? Before we dive into all of that, let's get the context right. Trotter was elaborating on the idea that the lockout being ruled "legal" (actually the ruling just said that the court couldn't end the lockout) gave leverage to the owners. Here's exactly what he said:
"Anyone who believes the 8th circuit ruling is a leverage shift for the owners isn't following closely. Consider court said rookies an free agents can't be locked out. If Judge Nelson grants an injunction that forces teams to do business with all 800+, then what? And does anyone believe that judge nelson would NOT rule in favor of the rookies and free agents? Having said all of that, look for a CBA agreement by the middle of next week, with league business to resume a week or so after that. I know you all will hold me to that timeline but remember, there is a difference b/n "informed opinion" and "fact". Mine: informed opinion."
Now that we have his context down, let's actually think about this. We've all been hearing and reading about progress, but every time it seems like a new CBA is within reach, the guys leaving the meeting say something like, "We're still a long ways from an agreement." That sort of rhetoric leads me to believe that there still might be a lot of work to be done before we see a new CBA. Gee, that's a real stretch for a conclusion isn't it?
Maybe I'm just a pessimist, but I don't see a new CBA coming next week. Maybe the week after next will yield one, but it's really a crapshoot for guestimating these things, as Trotter himself eluded to at the end of his quote. Of course, he also knows more than I do about the situation, and his guess/estimate is much more likely to be accurate than mine. We'll see.
The biggest, most interesting development out of the last few weeks has been that the NFL and the NFLPA* issued a joint statement after the 8th Circuit Court's most recent ruling. That sort of simple collaboration is something that has been missing in recent months, and it at least shows that they are willing to communicate, even if it is something as mundane as a standard issue response to a court ruling. I'm optimistic that a new CBA is around the corner, but the question is, how close is the corner?