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Concessions for Brady lawsuit plaintiffs no issue in CBA talks

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WASHINGTON -- Issues still are standing in the way of NFL labor peace. Placating the named plaintiffs in the Brady antitrust lawsuit no longer is one, for now.

Requests for concessions for numerous players -- including but not limited to San Diego Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson and New England Patriots guard Logan Mankins -- remained earlier in the week. But Jackson and Mankins have dropped their demands for $10 million to settle the suit against the league, leaving fewer obstacles to a new collective bargaining agreement that would end the four-month-old NFL lockout.

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The NFL's labor committee held a conference call Saturday to discuss outstanding issues, while NFL Players Association lawyers and officials spend the weekend digesting the league's proposal for a new labor deal.

Another source said that some of the remaining issues involve injury protection, workers' compensation, opt-out rights for players and the process for finalizing benefits, discipline and drug-testing agreements, which can't be made binding until after the NFLPA recertifies as a union.

But players and owners differ as to how and when that would happen. NFLPA lawyers and brass believe there are "major problems with the process of reforming the union and settling the lawsuits," as spelled out in the proposal presented by the owners, one source told NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora on Friday.

Some player reps have advised their teammates Friday that it could take several days for the NFLPA to agree to terms with the league and begin the union recertification process. Of course, that could change if major gains are made in negotiations.

The major economic framework for a 10-year deal was worked out a week ago. That included how the $9 billion-plus in annual league revenues will be divided (about 53 percent to owners and 47 percent to players over the next decade; the old CBA resulted in nearly a 50-50 split); a per-club cap of about $120 million for salary and bonuses in 2011 -- and at least that in 2012 and 2013 -- plus about $22 million in benefits; a salary system to rein in spending on first-round draft picks; and unrestricted free agency for most players after four seasons.

NFL.com experts investigate the pressing issues facing each team when the lockout ends:

» AFC East: Team needs | Where we left off

» NFC East: Team needs | Where we left off

» AFC North: Team needs | Where we left off

» NFC North: Team needs | Where we left off

» AFC South: Team needs | Where we left off

» NFC South: Team needs | Where we left off

» AFC West: Team needs | Where we left off

» NFC West: Team needs | Where we left off

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and league owners expressed hope Thursday night that their 31-0 vote -- the Oakland Raiders abstained -- to approve the proposed CBA would lead to a speedy resolution to the NFL's first work stoppage since 1987. They called it an equitable deal that improves player safety and allows the sport to prosper even more.

"It is time to get back to football," Goodell said.

But even when players decide they're OK with a final agreement, their approval process is more complicated than the owners' was. The 32 player reps will have to recommend accepting the settlement. Then the 10 named plaintiffs -- including Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees -- in the antitrust suit must officially inform the court of their approval.

Eventually, all 1,900 players would take a majority vote to approve returning the NFLPA to union status. When talks broke down in March, allowing the old CBA to expire, the players dissolved the union, turning the NFLPA into a trade

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