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Friday, February 28, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Rookie wage scale, free agency stand in way of NFL deal

By Barry Wilner Associated Press

NEW YORK – A rookie wage scale and free agency for veterans appear to be the biggest stumbling blocks to ending the NFL lockout.

Several people with knowledge of the talks told the Associated Press that such key issues as splitting total revenues – the major reason for the dispute – the salary cap, fewer offseason workouts and the length of a new collective bargaining agreement are close to being completed.

The people spoke anonymously because details are supposed to remain private.

Owners and players are to meet again, beginning Tuesday, after two days of long negotiations last week. Lawyers from both sides are to meet today.

The sticky topics include limits on rookie salaries and signing bonuses. Another is the number of transition tags for free agents, with right of first refusal.

With training camps scheduled to open in less than two weeks for some teams, time is growing short to reach an agreement to end the nearly four-month lockout without a disruption to the preseason.

NFL owners have long sought to restrict the huge bonuses and salaries paid to unproven rookies, particularly those selected high in the draft.

The NFLPA insists that money diverted from the rookies go to veteran players; some also would go for retired players’ benefits.

The main disagreement right now is how deep into the first round the rookie wage scale would apply, perhaps eight picks, perhaps twice that many. Some owners also are seeking longer contracts for rookies.

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