Report: Players could vote on deal today

While players grumbled Thursday night about the labor agreement owners ratified it appears that a deal could be right around the corner.

Chris Mortensen of ESPN reported that the 32 NFLPA player representatives are expected to have another conference call today at which point they could vote on the tentative agreement the owners approved at a league meeting in Atlanta. The players did not hold a vote during a lengthy teleconference Thursday night.

There was plenty of uproar after the NFL announced the news and released a timeline for a return to business which would open doors to facilities today and allow contract negotiations starting Saturday. The problem was the players felt they hadn’t seen a copy of the deal the owners gave a thumbs up to, well, all the owners but Al Davis as the Oakland Raiders abstained.

Media spin on owners position in this lockout is ridiculous,” Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers wrote on his Twitter account. “Believe my colleagues tweets tonight about the events of the last 24 hours.”

In the next 24 hours, though, a deal could be hatched and that could send the league forward with 10 years of labor harmony.

All in all, despite the games that were played by the NFL, things look much more optimistic," an NFLPA source told Mortensen.

It’s down to the smallest possible details as the owners and players disagree over how the NFLPA will track votes for the group to re-unionize. There are not believed to be issues that could prevent an agreement from formally being announced.

In the timeline, the NFL would begin the new league year on Wednesday when free agent and draft pick signings would be permitted. That is also a uniform date for clubs to report to training camp, ensuring the first week of the preseason will be played after the league canceled the Hall of Fame Game Aug. 7 between the Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams. The first week of the preseason is essential because of those games are lost money will start coming off the table.

The real negotiations that began June 1 with a clandestine meeting in St. Charles, Ill., could finally turn into a deal. Stay tuned.

Follow me on Twitter: @BradBiggs

Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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