Bears

Owners, Players Agree To Deal To End Lockout

Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, left, and National Football League Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith, right, speak to the media outside of the Ritz-Carlton hotel after addressing players during the NFLPA rookie symposium on Wednesday, June 29, 2011 in Sarasota, Fla. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

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WASHINGTON (AP) NFL owners and players agreed early Monday to the terms of a deal to end the lockout, and players were expected to begin the voting process later in the day, two people familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.

The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the process was supposed to remain secret and no formal announcement had been made.

The NFL Players Association’s executive committee on Monday afternoon approved the finalized agreement. The rest of the NFL player reps still need to OK the deal, which is viewed as a formality.

Owners overwhelmingly approved a proposal last week, but some unresolved issues still needed to be figured out to satisfy players.

The sides worked through the weekend and wrapped up talks Monday morning, one of the people told the AP.

The league’s old labor deal expired in March, and the owners locked out the players, the NFL’s first work stoppage since 1987.

“We have every reason to believe it’s going to be a good day,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello wrote in an email to the AP.

If players sign off on the agreement Monday, NFL clubs would be able to start signing 2011 draft picks and rookie free agents on Tuesday. Conversations with veteran free agents also could start Tuesday, and signings could begin Friday.

Under that tentative schedule, training camps would open for 10 of the 32 teams on Wednesday, 10 teams on Thursday, another 10 teams on Friday, and the last two teams on Sunday.

The major economic framework for the deal was worked out more than a week ago.

That included how the more than $9 billion in annual league revenues will be divided (about 53 percent to owners and 47 percent to players over the next decade; the old CBA resulted in nearly a 50-50 split); a per-club cap of about $120 million for salary and bonuses in 2011 – and at least that in 2012 and 2013 – plus about $22 million for benefits; a salary system to rein in spending on first-round draft picks; and unrestricted free agency for most players after four seasons.

© 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.