So how can the competing reports from Monday evening regarding the progress, or lack thereof, in mediation be harmonized? Sal Paolantonio of ESPN reported that a breakthrough came on Monday. Others, specifically Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com and Mark Maske of the Washington Post, reported that no meaningful progress was made.
Both reports can be accurate. Even if no specific progress was made on Monday, the fact that the NFL agreed to make a new offer when the players still haven’t responded to the NFL’s offer of March 11 represents a significant, and rare, development in matters of this nature. Negotiations respect certain rituals, the most basic of which is that one side makes a proposal and the other side responds, and so on. Parties that have made an offer typically are very reluctant to revise that offer without some response to the prior offer — the practice routinely is called bidding against oneself.
The fact that the NFL made a new offer despite getting no response to its prior offer, it light of all relevant facts and circumstances, represents significant “progress,” regardless of whether any “progress” was made in the back-and-forth.
Unless, of course, the offer made by the NFL essentially restates the terms of the offer made on March 11.
The more pressing question is whether, now that the offer has been made, the players will respond, or whether they’ll simply dismiss it as the second worst deal in the history of sports.