NEW YORK (KDKA/AP) – On Thursday, Jeff Pash, the NFL’s head negotiator, said it would be easier to reach a new labor agreement with the NFLPA if that agreement includes an 18-game season.

Pash also said the league and owners are focusing on having a full season in 2011. The owners would like to have a deal in place before the summer, but there is no deadline.

The current CBA expires in March 2011, and the NFLPA’s director, DeMaurice Smith, says he believes the owners will lockout the players next season. In preparation for the lockout, Smith sent the players a letter to save their last three game checks of the 2010 season in the event of a lockout.

Pash sat down for an interview with the Associated Press, but declined to give details on where negotiations stand as of Thursday.

He and the owners are reportedly focusing on four areas in negotiations: economics, an 18-game season, the rookie salary system and free-agency rules.

The owners opted out of the current CBA in 2008. They thought the CBA was one-sided as it allowed the players salaries to rise 35 percent from 2005 to 2009.

This year, there was no cap in 2010, and 19 of the 32 teams increased their salary.

Last year’s salary cap was $128 million, while the floor was $111 million and currently the average team payroll is around $116 million.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2009 payroll was $119 million.

The NFL has not missed games because of labor problems since 1987, that’s when the players went on strike.

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