If you believe the buzz in the media, this is the absolute critical moment in labor discussions that have been on again and off again during the 100-plus days of this work stoppage. Owners gather in Chicago this week to have full-scale updates and conversations and maybe, just maybe, find a way to weave together a deal in the very near future with the players.
Here is a scenario to consider, at least from this perspective: The Owners break down the state of the negotiations and agree to the general outline of the deal. It takes much of this week. Then the Owners present the plan to the players and there is a handshake agreement early next week, or maybe even a week later.
The sides agree to open for business, even though the Collective Bargaining Agreement is not officially signed, sealed and delivered. Teams are given a short period of time, say three days, to consider all of the terms of the deal and to have an exclusive window to approach their pending free agents.
Free agency then opens, with the anticipated frenzy we have talked about previously.
All the while, players are welcome to attend their respective facilities and participate in offseason conditioning programs and classroom work. No formal practices are held until training camp.
Under this timeline, players and coaches would have about three weeks to work together to gain a basic understanding of X's and O's prior to the full-blown training camps around the league.
And after that, it's business as usual for the fans and the teams and, well, the past will hopefully be forgotten quickly.
That's the mindset I have going in to this week. It's all optimism for me until told otherwise. The critical juncture is here, so why not take the glass-is-half-full approach?
I'm looking ahead to the days of workouts, free agency and training camp, with the vision of 10,000 Eagles fans swarming to Lehigh University chanting E-A-G-L-E-S, EAGLES! through the heat of the summer of football.
NEWS, NOTES AND A LITTLE BIT OF THIS AND THAT
- The flap between running back LeSean McCoy and Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora that began on Twitter is childish, nonsensical, foolish ... and a whole lot of fun. Look, McCoy probably shouldn't have said a thing on Twitter when he involved himself in Umenyiora's business with the Giants. They've been firing back and forth since, with the most laughable remark coming from Umenyiora when he called McCoy "Lady Gaga." Silly. But it sure is a refreshing dose of rivalry in this very difficult offseason. Clearly, the Eagles and Giants don't like each other. The NFC East is a great place to be, as we know. On our PhiladelphiaEagles.com poll over the weekend, 67 percent of the 3,500 votes said the most hated rival was Dallas, not New York. No surprise there.
- Lincoln Financial Field was the place to be over the weekend for the sold-out Kenny Chesney show. Beginning with the Advanced Auto Parts Monster Jam, Lincoln Financial Field is jammed with top-shelf events. Next up is U2 in a few weeks. The date is July 14, and it's going to be a star-studded night.
- All of the stuff we've heard about what players the Eagles are interested in acquiring once free agency begins is just too fun to be true, isn't it? Truth is, the post-lockout situation is likely to be so chaotic that nobody really knows what's going to happen. I'm sure the Eagles have a list -- they sure as heck better have three or four lists -- of players they want to approach. But every team is going to be in the same boat. Decisions will be made quickly. Players will come and go. It's going to be a period of time to remember. I just think that is it really hard right now to know how much is going to unfold according to any plans teams have now.
- And by the way, there is nothing official about training camp, one way or the other. I happen to believe that if the work stoppage is settled within the next three weeks, head coach Andy Reid is going to want to get his players away and sequestered in training camp for as long as possible.