Patriots owner Robert Kraft, one of the most influential owners in the current labor negotiations, told reporters Thursday that the two sides are "making progress."
Kraft spoke to reporters at the Patriots Community MVP Luncheon on Thursday.
"I think so because we're talking now," Kraft said when asked if the two sides are closer than they were on March 11 to a labor agreement. "We're making progress. But you know there's a lot of work to be done. This is a very hard deal with all the different variables. ... But the good news is, we're talking."
The NFL and NFLPA met in a western Chicago suburb last week and on Long Island this week without lawyers in the room to try and work toward a new labor agreement. Kraft, a member of the league's labor committee, has been present at most of the negotiations throughout the process.
"I think we went 34 days without having communications, and the lawyers on each side were doing stuff. That to me isn't progress," he said.
He added, "I think as long as the principals on each side keep talking — and we're talking — and addressing the issues head-on, we've got a chance of solving them."
The way we see it
Kraft was careful to emphasize that no deal is imminent, but his optimism about the current progress of the talks is a good sign. He has been a mainstay in the room and has shown his commitment to a deal. NFL Network's Albert Breer has reported a deadline for a typical preseason to occur could be around July 15, and the way talks are apparently going, it's not a longshot for a deal to be done by early July to save the full season.