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NFL Lockout 2011: New Deal Introduces Forced Max Spending, Thursday Night Games

A new deal is on the table for the players and it seems as if light is on the horizon for all involved.

CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 04:  A general view of the Carolina Panthers Bank of America Stadium as the NFL lockout looms on March 4, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 04: A general view of the Carolina Panthers Bank of America Stadium as the NFL lockout looms on March 4, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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It's the light cresting just over the brim of the horizon that NFL fans have been waiting to hear for some time: a proposed deal is in the works that should please everyone. Of course, it's not over yet and the deal almost feels too fragile to even begin to celebrate -- as if it's a house of cards paused because a breeze is being felt throughout the room. Still any progress is great news when it comes to the restoration of the NFL as "normal," and here's hoping the complete 2011 NFL season is salvaged. With the latest rumored deal on the table from the owners to the players, it looks as if that's a possibility.

There are several points leaked out today that detail what the players can expect, and you can be sure this wasn't some Anthony Weiner Twitter scandal of a leak, but instead a well-calculated movement on the owners' part to inform the public that they are, indeed, capitulating on several major items. There are a few key points that should be interesting to fans ready to get the game underway, yet curious how the new deal may impact the comings and goings of their favorite players:

1. Salary Cap Floor - While teams like the Bucs and the Chiefs have withheld millions of dollars in potential roster spending in the last season or so, such moves will not be possible in the future. According to the leaks, owners must spend nearly all of the salary cap every year on players, making free agency much more lucrative and giving owners incentive to go ahead and give their best young players extensions. This means the Chiefs will have mega-money to spend in the time that many players and owners have said will be absolutely chaotic when free agency starts. Yet for those teams with money to burn, that's all the better. Simply put, it's like the Chiefs will be told they have to find $40 million worth of upgrades (note: my math isn't nearly as exact as you might like it to be).

2. Players Percentage - The players are receiving a 48 percent cut of total revenue and there's no more separating various pools of money. It's everything on the table and the players get 48 percent of it, with that total never to dip below 46.5 percent in the future. More money for the players means better care even after a career is over, so this will also help appease those petitioning for the NFL to offer better medical care and pension plans for its retired corps.

3. Thursday Night Games - The proposed deal apparently includes a new Thursday night game of the week for every single week of the season. This will dramatically increase television profits and should bring in more money for a sport that was already ruled several nights of America's attention each week.

Of course, there's a lot more details on the table and probably a lot more to be worked out beyond even what was leaked to the press. However, it's a good sign that talks have been ongoing, that the ins and outs of the process have been hushed until now and it seems the light is there for fans to breathe easy again. At least the NFL hopes those same fans are still waiting.