According to ESPN, the New England Patriots and the NFL are holding 'back-channel conversations' in order to end this 'Deflategate' nonsense. Does this mean commissioner Roger Goodell is running out of time and options?

I think it does. Seems like the Patriots are now in control. The NFL does not want to be sued by one of its most powerful owners. That is exactly what Kraft will do if they decide to uphold Brady's suspension and go ahead with the fine and loss of draft picks. Only way for Goodell to come out of this relatively unscathed is by making a deal. This is from ESPN.

The NFL and the New England Patriots are engaged in "back-channel conversations" to see if the two sides can resolve their differences without an appeal or possible litigation following the league's Deflategate punishment, sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

The Patriots are weighing their next move in terms of reacting to the discipline meted out by the NFL and have until before Friday to file an appeal of their penalties, which consist of the loss of two draft picks -- including a first-rounder -- and a $1 million fine.