As owners make last ditch proposal, the NFLPA decides its next move. Could another deadline be coming?

National Football League Players’ Association’s (NFLPA) Executive Director DeMaurice Smith (2nd R wearing hat) arrives with players to continue negotiations between the National Football League (NFL) and NFLPA in Washington March 11, 2011. The parties were still negotiating a range of sticking points, including how to divide more than $9 billion in annual revenues, but the players’ union insist one issue, the NFL’s proposal to add two more games to the regular season, was off the table. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL EMPLOYMENT BUSINESS)

If you’re searching for the latest news on the NFL labor dispute, good luck. It appears that nobody, not even the most plugged in reporters, knows exactly what’s going on inside those meeting rumors. Which I guess means that the NFL and NFLPA have successfully managed to do something together: black out the media.

But as we draw closer to the 5:00PM ET deadline that the players have to decertify,’s Peter King and ESPN’s Adam Schefter have shared a morsel of news via their Twitter pages. According to one of his sources, King says that the NFL owners made revised offers on core issues this morning but Schefter writes that DeMaurice Smith told the players in a conference call to be prepared to decertify. Schefter also notes, “If nothing else, the NFL gave the NFLPA something to think about today with its last-ditch proposal. NFLPA now deciding what’s next.”

If you want to remain really, really optimistic about the situation, there’s still a chance that the two sides will agree on a new CBA before the players decertify and before the current CBA expires at 11:59PM ET Friday night. If you want to feel somewhat optimistic, then maybe the two sides will agree to another extension and talks will resume next week. If you want to feel realistic, then it appears that the players are heading for a decertification and the owners are heading for a lockout.

Personally, I’m somewhere in between somewhat optimistic and realistic at this point. I think the Pirates have a better chance of winning the World Series this year than the owners and players coming to an agreement in these last remaining hours. But part of me believes the union has seen enough give from the owners to allow the deadline to decertify pass and agree to another extension. Hopefully my somewhat optimistic side wins out, but I’m also aware that the players’ biggest play is to decertify. If the owners know they can’t decertify, will they be willing to compromise further next week? Doubtful.

And so we wait…

Update: Here’s the latest from Schefter: “De Smith: Met with owners till 4. Discussed proposal. Significant differences remain. Informed owners they need more info. Want answers by 5. Significant differences remain. Informed owners they need more info. Want answers by 5.”

Another Update: The union has decertified.

So it looks like reality is about to win out. *Shakes head, stomps feet and curses to the NFL gods.*

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