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NFL Lockout 2011: Progress Brings Tidal Wave Closer

The 2011 season is looking more and more like it will be played out in its entirety. This is great news for fans but every day we get closer to the season the less time there is for all of the things that will happen before the season begins.

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There has been some recent news coming out in regards to how close the negotiations between the NFL owners and the NFLPA are in terms of finding a resolution. There have been conflicting reports as to a timetable in which a deal could be reached, but the mere thought of there being any kind of a 'time' being looked at as a conclusion to all of this is a good sign. This optimism has been a nice relief from the doomsday projections of some analysts that believe that half of the season could be missed.

The two sides did release a statement.

 "Discussions between NFL owners and players under the auspices of Chief Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan took place again this week and will continue. At the request of Judge Boylan, both sides have agreed to maintain the confidentiality of the substance of the talks."

Despite reports that a deal could be struck within a couple of weeks, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Tuesday's meetings almost "blew up" as DeMaurice Smith had to tell his lawyers to stand down.

Multiple sources familiar with the talks said progress is being made, but they cautioned that there's "a lot of drama and a lot of room for mistakes left." To say this is going to be done in two weeks, one source said, "is borderline insane."

Regardless of whether or not a deal is struck before the 4th of July or sometime later in the month one thing is for certain. Whenever a deal is struck there is going to be a tidal wave of news coming out of the league. There are going to be thousands of reports on how the deal was constructed and who the "winners" and "losers" were of this new agreement. The fans would probably be the biggest winners when it's all said and done. But right when you're feeling that joy from knowing there will be football this fall, you'll get the bill for your season tickets. Timing is everything after all.

The next thing to happen would be the reports on the rookies getting their contracts signed. With an already shortened off-season getting these rookies in the buildings and learning from these coaches would have to be teams' top priority. As if rookies didn't already have an uphill battle now we're going to shorten the time for their learning curve and still expect them to contribute week one as if they had been there all along? Seems a little unrealistic. The teams with the best plans in place for when things do get back to normal in this shortened off-season will be light-years ahead of the rest of the league.

These player-run private workouts are a step in the right direction but are a far-cry from the real thing. Just like practicing doesn't prepare you for the speed of game day, these practices in shorts and t-shirts aren't preparing players for tackling drills and actual contact.

The next thing that that will happen is free agency. It will be amazing to see how quickly, or not, teams jump to sign players so they can get them acclimated with their new coaches and teammates. Agents might not sleep for a week or two once this all goes down. The dynamic between agents, players and general managers will be something to watch for during this brief circus. Agents will try to help their free agent clients but also have to watch the landscape of the rest of the league for their clients who could be approaching free agency soon. In such a short period of time there is the making for the savvy general managers to drastically improve their teams without taking a whole lot of risk.

There are some teams like the Kansas City Chiefs that have franchise-tagged players to deal with, depending on how the new agreement is written. As important as resigning Tamba Hali is for the Chiefs, the fact of the matter is that he is going to be a Chief in 2011 and they have a lot of time to work on his deal. They don't have a lot of time to pursue a certain Nose Tackle from the Bay Area.

So while we grasp on to every last piece of NFL news we can right now we have to remember to have a contingency plan in place for when the tidal wave comes on shore. Whether it be calling in sick or asking for the day off of work, you'll be hard-pressed to not be glued to whatever media platform you choose to use to get your news because it's going to be big and it's going to be great.