NFL, Union Begin Another Bargaining Session

INDIANAPOLIS -- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith spent about 1 hour, 40 minutes working on a new collective bargaining agreement Thursday, then left without saying a word.

The two sides met in an Indianapolis hotel ballroom as the league's annual scouting combine began.

Goodell remains hopeful the two sides can reach a deal before March 2011 when the CBA expires.

If they do not have a new deal before March 5, the league will have its first non-salary cap season since 1993, and players are anticipating a lockout before the start of the 2011 season.

Smith was joined in the room by several player representatives including Jeff Saturday of Indianapolis and Mike Vrabel of Kansas City.

Goodell brought a group of league executives including executive vice president and general counsel Jeff Pash.

The meeting was supposed to last about one hour but went longer than expected. Goodell and Smith both declined to take questions afterward, and the player reps also did not take questions.

Goodell appeared to be in good spirits when he entered the room. He smiled and hugged one player before negotiations began. When the session broke up, both sides came out expressionless.

Smith has repeatedly said he expects NFL owners to lock out players before the start of the 2011 season, and the union has been telling players to plan appropriately so their families can have a similar lifestyle if there is a lockout.

The NFLPA also sent out a memo Tuesday saying it does not expect a new deal to be in place by March 5 when free agents can start signing with new teams.

Smith has said the sides have had 12 general bargaining sessions to discuss issues related to developing a new CBA and that there have been more than 30 overall bargaining sessions with the league in the past six months.

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