New York Giants Notes: Updating The Labor Negotiations

Good morning, New York Giants fans! ESPN is reporting that talks between the NFL owners and NFL players are moving "in the right direction" following Thursday's latest negotiating session.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith issued statements following the meeting. Judge them for yourself:

Smith: "Someone asked me whether I was optimistic. I think we’re both optimistic when we have the right people in the room. We know we’re talking about the right issues and that we’re working hard to get it done. It is extremely complicated, it requires a lot of hard work by a lot of people, but we’re committed to getting something done and we’re going to keep working at it. Just to wrap up: we’re working hard, we understand the fans’ frustration, I know our players’ frustration. We’re going to keep working hard and try to make sure we get a deal done."

Goodell: "You obviously know we met over the last couple of days. We are under court order as far as what we can discuss so our comments will be brief. But obviously we’re all working hard. The players and owners were here over the last two days. De and I were here for the entire meetings also. And it’s complicated and it’s complex, but we’re working hard and we understand the fans’ frustration. But I think both of us feel strongly that we’re going to continue to work hard at it."

USA Today said that a new labor deal is "within striking distance."

"They've made more progress over the last month than they did over the previous two years, and that's got everybody feeling pretty optimistic about where we are right now," said NFLN correspondent Albert Breer, who's been following the lockout doggedly since it began March 12. "As of right now, the feeling's pretty positive."

Doug Free could have a lot of leverage - Dallas Cowboys Blog - ESPN Dallas
Free’s status would be especially concerning to the Cowboys. They put the highest restricted tender (first- and third-round picks) on Free in March, determined to keep him after the 27-year-old performed well in his first full campaign as a starter. They’ve long planned to reach a long-term deal with Free after the lockout ended. "He’ll be our No. 1 priority when things start up," executive vice president Stephen Jones said the week of the draft. "We want to sign Doug back."

My take: Anyone interested in bringing Free to the Giants? When I think of the Giants and free agent offensive linemen I generally think of them pursuing a player or two with experience at guard or center. Free, though, might be an enticing, if unlikely, option. He would allow the Giants to move David Diehl.

NFL.com news: Expanded rosters would help teams get through training camp

The competition committee has broached the idea of expanding training camp rosters for 2011, considering all of the offseason training activities and teaching time that has been lost, as well as the months of evaluation teams would normally have to work with depth players and prospects. The idea has been embraced by numerous general managers.

There is no timetable for a vote yet and nothing tangible proposed, but expanding camp rosters to 90 or so players makes sense on many levels.

Normally teams would have expanded offseason rosters filled with players on "futures" contracts, who coaches can assess throughout offseason workouts and OTAs before deciding who to bring to camp. Obviously that entire process has been sacrificed due to the lockout.

"I don't know anyone in my position who wouldn't support it," one general manager told me. "We'd love to be able to bring 90 in (for training camp). And from the players' side, it's more opportunities for them."

Whatever the reason I have been in favor of expanding the training camp rosters for the past couple of seasons. When the league trimmed them from 85 to 80 a couple of years ago that never made sense. You are giving fewer players job opportunities and making veterans you want to protect take unnecessary training camp snaps.

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