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League, Union Meet in Washington

WASHINGTON - The NFL and the NFL Players Association are meeting in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday and Thursday to continue dialogue toward a new collective bargaining agreement, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

The sides are meeting in smaller groups after Saturday's two-hour, full negotiating session.

More talks are scheduled for this month with both parties working to get a new deal done before March 4, when the current deal expires.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Sunday morning that this past weekend's bargaining session with the players' union in Dallas was "beneficial."

In an interview with "Fox News Sunday" that aired the morning of Super Bowl XLV, Goodell called drug testing a key issue in labor talks.

Goodell said "a number of" individual players and owners participated in a two-hour meeting Saturday, the first formal bargaining session since Nov. 22. The collective bargaining agreement expires March 3.

"It's always a positive when both parties are talking," Goodell said.

Outlining major sticking points, Goodell talked about revenue division, rookie salaries and benefits for retired players.

"We want to continue on with the integrity of the game, which is my No. 1 issue," Goodell said, adding the league wants to make sure "we have the best drug program in sports."

The NFL and NFL Players Association issued a joint statement following Saturday's session at a Dallas hotel.

"The NFL and NFL Players Association met for two hours today in a continuing effort to narrow the differences and reach a fair agreement that will benefit the players, teams and fans," the statement read. "We plan to increase the number, length and intensity of bargaining sessions so that we can reach agreement before the March 4 expiration of the current CBA."

The union has said it expects owners to lock out players if a new CBA isn't reached by the deadline.

Among the major issues are how to divide about $9 billion in annual revenues; the owners' push to expand the regular season from 16 games to 18 while reducing the preseason by two games; a rookie wage scale and benefits for retired players.

The league estimates there would be a cut in gross revenues of $120 million without a new agreement by early March; $350 million if there's no CBA by August, before the preseason starts; $1 billion if no new contract is in place until September. And if regular-season games are lost, the NFL figures the revenue losses would amount to about $400 million per week.

The old deal was agreed to in 2006 and could have been in place until 2012, but owners exercised an opt-out clause in 2008.

For more NFL labor news, visit

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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