Although the National Football League owners have approved a new contract with the players, it remains unclear when actual football activity will resume.

NFL representatives released statements last week, claiming the lockout between the owners and the players will end on July 23. But the players responded by dismissing what they claim was a “forced” weekend deadline, stating there is still work to be done before both sides officially reach agreement.

The confusion began when all 32 NFL team owners voted on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that they felt was fair and equal enough to propose to the players; according to ESPN.

The NFL felt so good about the proposed deal, they announced to the media that the players would vote to enact the new deal on July 21-22 and the NFL would officially open for business the next day.

But, according to ESPN, the players say the announced deadline is more of a publicity tool used to pressure the players into prematurely signing the deal before being fully familiar with it including all of the benefits that the players have been advocating for.

“We feel like we’ve been backed into the corner,” former Ravens receiver Donte Stallworth told the Baltimore Sun. “Now, it’s on the players. And now, fans are mad because they want the players to sign the deal. But we haven’t been able to read it thoroughly.”

Ravens running back Ray Rice expressed the same frustration after being briefed with more information of the new deal. “It seemed like now it’s on the players and put it out there like that,” Rice told ESPN. “Certain things look good and certain things look like they are still in question. We don’t have a timetable, but we want to get a deal equal for the players.”

According to ESPN, the new deal will keep the NFL regular season at 16 games per year, much to the delight of the players. Owners can vote to extend the regular season to 18 games after 2013, but only with the approval of the players.

A new salary cap would be introduced under the proposed deal, with the ceiling set at $120 million per year and the floor set at 99 percent ($119 million) in the first two years, then drops to 95 percent for the remainder of the deal, another positive considered for players.

According to ESPN the new CBA would also enforce lighter workouts and practice sessions during both the season and offseason, something the players requested. Even the proposed revenue split between players and owners also appear fair, with 48 percent of total revenue made per year going to the players, including $620 million annually set aside for former players.

The owners also included some new clauses they considered a positive on their side, including a new rookie wage cap; rookies would be limited to a four-year deal, with an owners’ option for a fifth year (fifth year option for first round draft picks only), according to

The cap for all rookies will be significantly less than previous years, which means owners will no longer have to pay top-10 draft picks substantial amounts of guaranteed money before they’ve even played their first NFL game.

This new policy would benefit former players, too, because the money that was formally used to pay rookies under the old deal will now be used to fund retired players’ benefits and performance based bonuses for veteran players, as reported by the Sun. .

But according to the Sun, NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said other issues such as “workers’ compensation” and “end of deal terms” still need to be resolved.

Smith said they need answers to how players will receive benefits that they missed out on last season, as reported by Smith has pledged he will make sure everything is clear and concise in contract language before he encourages the players to recertify as a union and sign the new CBA, a 10-year contract with no opt-out clause included.

The players, however, are aware that if they do not recertify soon enough to sign a new CBA, they could possibly miss a couple of preseason games, which cuts into their pockets. Still, they won’t be rushed.

“We’re not going to be put under the fire to try to make a decision,” Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason told ESPN. “We’re going to look at what the owners have signed off on and we’re going to take this very seriously. We’re not up against any time constraint. We’re going to take this very delicately.”