I've been expecting a new labor deal to be agreed on by the end of next week, and the owners and players made progress towards it on Thursday. From NFL.com:
To that end, impressive momentum came out of a nearly 15-hour labor negotiation Thursday in New York, with the owners and players closing in on an agreement for a new rookie wage scale, according to a source. It appears the issue could be resolved soon if the parties can work out a few minor details.
It seems unlikely they'll have all the pieces by the end of next week, but hopefully there will be a framework in place so they can end the lockout. I can't imagine they'd allow the start of the season to be held up by legal red tape.
There was also a report on the state of the salary cap. From NFL.com:
Also, salary-cap details became clear -- the 2011 projected cap will be roughly $123 million, according to sources, but as a practical matter will "feel" more like $130 million to teams when cap credits and new cap exceptions are factored. And teams will have to spend, in cash, 90 percent to the cap minimum, and league-wide spending will be pegged at 99 percent to the cap.
Other reports have it slightly less, at $120 million. The Green Bay Packers appear to be right around $120 million based on John Clayton's recent article. With all of their draft picks at the end of each round, signing them won't come with a big cap hit. GM Ted Thompson may have to make a move on his current roster, such as releasing RT Mark Tauscher, before he can do anything in free agency.