Update 2:40 p.m.

WASHINGTON — The NFL Players Association executive board and 32 team reps voted unanimously Monday to approve the terms of a deal with owners to the end the 4½-month lockout.

Owners overwhelmingly approved a proposal last week, but some unresolved issues still needed to be reviewed to satisfy players; the owners do not need to vote again.

The sides worked through the weekend and wrapped up the details Monday morning on a final pact that is for 10 years, without an opt-out clause, a person familiar with the deal told the AP on condition of anonymity.

Owners decided in 2008 to opt out of the league’s old labor contract, which expired March 11. That’s when the owners locked out the players, creating the NFL’s first work stoppage since 1987.

NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith stepped outside of the group’s headquarters in Washington at about 2 p.m. to announce that players approved the pact.

“I know it has been a very long process since the day we stood here that night in March,” Smith said. “But our guys stood together when nobody thought we would. And football is back because of it.”

As he spoke, Smith was flanked by NFLPA president Kevin Mawae, Saints quarterback Drew Brees, Colts center Jeff Saturday and Ravens defensive back Domonique Foxworth, key members of the players’ negotiating team. Brees is one of 10 plaintiffs in the antitrust lawsuit that players filed against the league.

Moments later, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell walked into the building, joined by owners Bob Kraft of the New England Patriots, John Mara of the New York Giants and Jerry Richardson of the Carolina Panthers.

“I believe it’s important that we talk about the future of football as a partnership,” Smith said.

A tentative timeline would allow NFL clubs to start signing 2011 draft picks and rookie free agents on Tuesday. Conversations with veteran free agents also could start Tuesday, and their signings could begin Friday.

Under the proposed schedule, training camps would open for 10 of the 32 teams on Wednesday, 10 more on Thursday, another 10 on Friday, and the last two teams on Sunday.

Both sides set up informational conference calls for Monday afternoon to go over the details of the agreement. The NFLPA told player agents they would be coached in particular on the guidelines and schedule for signing free agents and rookies; the NFL alerted general managers and coaches they would be briefed in separate calls.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — NFL owners and players agreed early Monday to the terms of a deal to end the lockout, and players were expected to begin the voting process later in the day, two people familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.

The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the process was supposed to remain secret and no formal announcement had been made.

The NFL Players Association’s executive committee was to meet Monday to be presented with the finalized agreement. Owners overwhelmingly approved a proposal last week, but some unresolved issues still needed to be figured out to satisfy players.

The sides worked through the weekend and wrapped up talks Monday morning, one of the people told the AP.

The league’s old labor deal expired in March, and the owners locked out the players, the NFL’s first work stoppage since 1987.

“We have every reason to believe it’s going to be a good day,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello wrote in an email to the AP.

If players sign off on the agreement Monday, NFL clubs would be able to start signing 2011 draft picks and rookie free agents on Tuesday. Conversations with veteran free agents also could start Tuesday, and signings could begin Friday.

Under that tentative schedule, training camps would open for 10 of the 32 teams on Wednesday, 10 teams on Thursday, another 10 teams on Friday, and the last two teams on Sunday.

The major economic framework for the deal was worked out more than a week ago.

That included how the more than $9 billion 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 for benefits; a salary system to rein in spending on first-round draft picks; and unrestricted free agency for most players after four seasons.

Should the players’ executive committee vote to accept the deal, it then would go to the 32 team representatives to approve, perhaps later Monday. After that, the total membership would need to vote, with a simple majority required for passage.

The 10 named plaintiffs in the players’ lawsuit against the league — including Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees — must officially inform the court in Minneapolis of their approval of the pact, too.

Even after that, while training camps would be opened, a true CBA can’t be agreed upon until the NFLPA re-establishes itself as a union. Players will need to vote to do so even as the sides put the finishing touches on a deal; only after the NFLPA is again a union can it negotiate such items as the league’s personal conduct policy and drug testing.

 

 

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