NFL players and owners were preparing to review a proposed collective bargaining agreement on Wednesday that could lead to the end of a fourth-month-old work stoppage, according to NFL.com.
The report said a vote by player representatives on the proposed agreement could take place later on Wednesday while the league's 32 team owners hope to vote Thursday on the new agreement.
Player representatives were meeting in Washington while the NFL owners' labor committee was in Atlanta, where at least 24 owners would need to approve the agreement.
But NFL Players Association president Kevin Mawae cautioned that locked out players would not be rushed into a deal just to ensure the start of the regular season is not disrupted.
Make no mistake, the players are not in a rush and are not tied to the timeline of July 21 (Thursday). Our timeline is the timeline that gets the best deal for the players, Mawae told reporters in Washington.
Whether it's today or tomorrow, we're not going to agree to any deal unless it's the right deal.
Time is running out for an agreement if the league is to begin its preseason on time with the Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams scheduled to play on August 7.
Many key sticking points in the dispute have been resolved, including an agreement in principle on how to divide more than $9 billion in annual revenue.
But an antitrust lawsuit filed by 10 players including quarterbacks Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees after bargaining talks broke down on March 11 must be settled.
The owners locked out the players the next day and the move has withstood legal challenges at the appellate level.