The labor impasse also has cost the league and some teams advertising and sponsorship money, and some players have not collected workout bonuses. At least seven teams have instituted pay cuts or furloughs of employees who are not players.
The economic pain may not be over. The dealmaking could all come crashing down if one side decides compromise is not in its interest.
“Much can still go wrong _ every negotiating session is unique to itself,” said Don Yee, who represents Tom Brady and is an adjunct law professor at USC. “Just because one day was good doesn’t mean the next day will be, too.”
That the lockout has lasted this long is frustrating to at least one player.
“In all honesty, being a professional now in an industry that’s as big as the NFL is, it’s kind of embarrassing that we’re even in a lockout,” said Bengals running back Cedric Benson, who will be a free agent once a new CBA is in place. “And having to go through these things and having to come to (the University of Cincinnati) campus and work out and not having a trainer. It’s slightly embarrassing, but it is what it is and I have no control over those type of things.
“But it is comforting to hear those guys coming up with a solution.”
AP Sports Writers Brett Martel in New Orleans and Joe Kay in Cincinnati contributed to this story.