So, it's come to this...

The lockout has created an environment where absolute non-stories all of a sudden hold bizarre significant, and this is another one of those occasions. 

ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting that the NFL has advised teams to prepare to stay overnight in Chicago next week during the owner's meeting scheduled on Tuesday. Why does this matter? Well, any time you have something planned to be a mere update, and it's extended into a two day affair it should be a sign that things are happening on the labor front. When Schefter was asked what the signficance of the league's notice he responded: 

"Means league knows it's entering critical stretch and there's plenty to discuss. Good sign."

I believe this is one of those 'where there's smoke, there's fire' situations in which there are simply too many indications that the negotiations are moving steadily to believe we're not close to a deal. This owner's meeting in Chicago was always a critical date for positive negotiations because it would be the perfect time to announce that both sides had reached an agreement, lay out the new salary cap/rules to teams and close the meeting by opening free agency. While we don't know what is happening behind closed doors, this is the single best chance to get a deal done and football reinstated.

Just the thought that we could have free agency in a week makes me giddy, so I hope the sides really are playing well and willing to be sensible. 

**UPDATE: Adam Schefter is reporting that at least one GM believes the meeting extension is to vote on a new CBA that has been agreed to in principal, but this is conjecture at the moment** 

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