Owners, players preparing for fifth round of meetings

Round V will begin next week.

For the fifth consecutive week, NFL owners and players are expected to huddle face-to-face in an effort to bridge the gap and come up with a new collective bargaining agreement with time fading away for clubs to be able to start training camps on time.

While no hard date has been set, most believe a deal needs to be struck on or around July 4 in order for there to be time for lawyers to hammer out the fine language of a CBA and then for a player-acquisition period that would include free agency.

That means the clock is ticking, and it is a good sign that they’ve consistently been meeting since the beginning of clandestine meetings at the start of June in St. Charles, Ill. Since, the sides have met in New York, Maryland and Massachusetts earlier this week.

Per the report, some work is being done via conference calls, but when it comes to dividing the more than $9 billion revenue pie, that’s being done in person. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and a select group of owners have been meeting with NFLPA boss DeMaurice Smith and key players.

"Someone asked me whether I was optimistic," Smith said earlier this week. "I think we're both optimistic when we have the right people in the room. We know we're talking about the right issues and that we're working hard to get it done."

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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