Sources: NFL, union to meet Monday, try to hammer out new drug policy

Representatives from the NFL Players Association will meet with league officials in New York on Monday in an attempt to overcome the final sticking points in negotiations regarding a new drug policy, sources have told FOX Sports.

Monday’s session will mark the first face-to-face meeting in over a month, said one source who also noted the players requested the sit-down.

NFLPA president Eric Winston and executive-committee member Brian Waters will represent the union along with a few other staff members. NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith will be in Seattle meeting with Seahawks players as part of his annual tour of teams, but authorized the meeting in hopes of making a breakthrough. Winston, who was elected president in the spring, has led the players’ negotiations with Smith on the new drug policies. Any final proposal would still have to be voted on by the 32 NFLPA player representatives.

The sides were confident they were closing in on a deal recently, though negotiations stalled last week. The NFL is requesting a deactivation with pay for the first game after a player is arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. (DUIs fall under the NFL’s drug policy.) The union, ever interested in due process before a player is taken off the field, has balked at that proposal.

Another sticking point in the negotiations to this point had been the appeals process for HGH violations that do not include a positive test (i.e. legal cases and evidentiary violations), though a source said the sides have made significant progress in that area and the league has shown a willingness to agree to third-party arbitration in those cases.

Meanwhile, the players are attempting to get the suspensions of several players reduced or lifted. However, it’s not a foregone conclusion those players (the Denver Broncos’ Wes Welker being chief among them) will receive amnesty if and when a new deal is reached. Welker tested positive for amphetamines, which would not result in a suspension under the guidelines that have been loosely agreed to.

The Cleveland Browns’ Josh Gordon is a complicated case because he’s failed multiple tests and his latest violation came before the start of the current league year. A source said the union’s attempts to lift or modify suspensions as part of a new agreement have been focused on players who tested positive during the new league year.

Spokesmen for both the NFL and NFLPA declined comment on Monday’s scheduled talks.