It's not over until it's over, as NFL owners have discovered the past few days, but it appears football will return this week.
The players' executive committee is expected to meet today in Washington to ratify the settlement. The board of player representatives then will vote. The full membership has to approve the agreement, which owners have done, and recertify as a union for the lockout to end.
There is optimism the NFL will return to work this week despite several days of uncertainty.
ESPN reported Sunday that sources said the players' leadership has reached agreement on all points of the deal, although other outlets reported later that players requested to have a seven-year opt-out clause inserted into the proposed 10-year deal.
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Barring other developments, training camps and free agency should begin this week. That would allow for a full season, including preseason, except for the Hall of Fame Game, which was canceled.
"I do think that we will start [the preseason games] on time," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "We do have a unique time frame in how we handle our roster and the free agency period."
Team facilities could reopen Wednesday. Training camps can't begin until the new league year does. That will happen the day a majority of players, as a group, ratify the deal.
Teams then will get a small window to re-sign their own free agents and their rookies before free agency begins.
If all goes according to plan, the season will begin with a wild week of activity.
"I'm optimistic the players will ratify it," former NFL coach Dick Vermeil said. "They can make all these noises they want, but that's just a few people speaking. I know this: There are a high percentage of kids who want to get coached and play football, because they are fighting to retain their jobs. The guys who have already made a lot of money, they aren't as hungry to get back on that field. But the kids who have to compete every year to make the team at the end, just to be on the roster, they want to get on the field and go to work."