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Informal talks between NFL, NFLPA about disciplinary changes have started

FILE - In this Thursday, April 30, 2015 file photo, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during the first round of the 2015 NFL Football Draft in Chicago. Without the games to distract from the issues, football fans were left to ponder the NFL’s policies, its commissioner and its overall credibility during an uncomfortable offseason for the league. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

AP

Over the weekend, Mark Maske of the Washington Post reported that talks between the NFL and NFLPA about a revised disciplinary system could take place during the 2015 season.

The indefinite part of that report can be amended now that Steelers president Art Rooney II told Maske that “informal” discussions have already taken place. Rooney added that no formal talks have been set up yet and that there’s unlikely to be any agreement before the end of the season because the talks will be tied to an extension of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement.

“I don’t get a sense from anyone on the [owners’ bargaining] committee that the reaction to Judge [Richard] Berman’s decision [in the Tom Brady case] should be a need to rush into major changes in the disciplinary system,” Rooney said. “We’ve expressed a willingness to discuss that with the union. But if it is going to come in the context of an extension of the collective bargaining agreement, it will probably be like everything else that involves discussions with the union. It will probably be a long process. I don’t think the timing of it will be soon. I don’t think it will be by the end of the season.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said after the Brady decision that he’s open to changes in his role in the system, but was more hesitant to entertain the notion of a neutral arbitrator being involved in the appeal process. During a recent appearance on Pro Football Talk on NBCSN, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith expressed a willingness to discuss changes to the system and said he was open to the necessary givebacks in negotiations that would have to happen to strike a deal.

With talks just starting and myriad issues involved in any extension of the CBA, resolution could be a long way down the line. The fact that the two sides are talking offers the possibility of changes to the way the league handles player discipline in the not too distant future.