DALLAS, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Friday he hopes league owners will sign a new deal with the players "in the next few weeks."
The current collective bargaining agreement expires March 3. Without a new one the players are facing a potential lockout by the owners.
At his annual Super Bowl week news conference Friday, Goodell said the owners want a "fair agreement."
"Our focus is on trying to get an agreement done," Goodell said. "We want to get this deal done in the next few weeks."
Goodell is expected to meet Saturday with NFL Players Association President DeMaurice Smith in an attempt to move negotiations closer to completion. But the commissioner indicated the owners are firm in their belief that salaries need to be reduced.
"The pendulum has shifted too far in one direction," Goodell said. "Status quo is not acceptable."
Cincinnati wide receiver Chad Ochocinco attended the news conference as a member of the media thanks to his cable television talk show and he asked Goodell if the owners were preparing for a lockout.
"Both sides are going to be prepared for every outcome," Goodell said. "The commitment is to get an agreement and we will get an agreement. This has to happen now."
Goodell said March 3 was not a firm deadline, but said it was a "critical date."
"A lot of different strategies will take place if we don't reach a deal by that date," he said. "I can assure you, I think both sides have that sense of urgency."