For all the talk of more strife between owners and NFL players’ union on the horizon, there is a core group on both sides who have an optimistic view that negotiations to extend the current collective bargaining agreement could get jump-started within the next six months, according to league and union sources.

The current CBA expires in 2021, and both sides have different incentives to avoid a work stoppage like the owners’ lockout of 2011 that ultimately led to the current 10-year agreement.

For NFL owners, sources say their most pressing incentives to achieve an extended labor deal include the ability to negotiate new television contracts and get more stadium credits, which have expired.

For players, sources say the goal is to preserve or increase their share of revenues while getting more concessions from owners on former player benefits. The salary cap is projected in 2020 to reach $200 million per team in addition to player benefits.

The NFLPA this week detailed some preparations in case of an eventual work stoppage in 2021, but sources concede that the next six months could set the tone for a more peaceful labor process to extend the deal well before the deadline.

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