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All Signs Point Towards NFL Lockout Ending Soon

Could we be less than a week away from hearing that a new collective bargaining agreement has been reached by the NFL and its players? After a four month stalemate, it appears that the owners and players are indeed in the final stages of hammering out a new deal that would not only save the 2011 season, but potentially even the preseason as well. In other words, after the longest work stoppage in league history, the only real consequence might just be missed OTAs and mini-camps.

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Here's where things stand:

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The negotiations continued Tuesday morning in Manhattan. Legal teams and staff from each party are meeting Tuesday and Wednesday. They will be joined by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith, Boylan, owners and players Thursday and Friday.

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And it appears that now, finally, the parties locked in a battle that has produced a fourth-month-old lockout are arriving at the 11th hour.

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The reason why lies in the money that would be lost with the cancellation of the preseason. The owners project the number to be close to $1 billion. The players say that number is inflated. Either way, no preseason means a significant chunk will be taken out of the revenue pie, which the owners and players have proven unable to divvy up throughout this whole process.

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There's even been chatter of the Hall of Fame Game potentially even being played on August 7th if the parties can finish off the complicated writing of the agreement. My guess is that would have to happen by the end of this week if two teams were to play in just over one month's time. But the fact that we're even having that conversation is a beautiful thing.

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It looks like the young, exciting Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have a training camp and some form of a preseason to get ready for the 2011 season, a year in which expectations are high following last season's impressive turnaround. The Bucs may actually be in a better situation than most teams in terms of not having to scramble too much during whatever free agency period is implemented. Sure, Tampa has some holes to plug in FA, but they're such a young team at most positions that the main concern will be getting back to work as a full team, coaches and all. Thankfully Josh Freeman has done a great job organizing workouts throughout the lockout, so now it's just a matter of vamping it up a notch. Exciting times. Now, don't let us down guys! Get the deal done!

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Photographs by cstreet.us, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.