Owners look for Hail Mary


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Jan 22, 2006
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Owners look for Hail Mary
They will get together again today in hopes of finding labor peace


NFL notes

NFL owners will try today to find labor peace before the start of free agency, hoping to avoid the mass dumping of veterans for salary-cap reasons.

The owners will meet in New York, looking to reach an agreement with the players' union that could add $10 million to $15 million to a 2006 salary cap that currently is $94.5 million. Without it, some teams could be forced into wholesale cuts to get beneath the cap by 9 p.m. today (PST). Free agency then begins. The NFL extended the deadline for teams to terminate contracts and request waivers on players by six hours, from 1 p.m. today to 7 p.m.

The NFL said in a statement Wednesday that the management council executive committee unanimously rejected the union's latest proposal "as a basis for further negotiations."

Three days of talks between the league and the NFL Players Association to extend the agreement that runs out in 2008 ended Tuesday with the sides far apart on the percentage of league revenues earmarked for players. Gene Upshaw, the union's executive director, said the league is offering 56.2 percent of its total revenue for the players, almost 4 points lower than the union's offer.

"Our number has to start with a six," Upshaw said.

But beyond the numbers is an issue that has divided the owners for two years -- revenue sharing among the teams. The NFL said in a statement after talks broke off that revenue sharing won't be discussed at today's meeting.

Under the current agreement, 2006 is scheduled to be the last year with a salary cap. An uncapped year in 2007 means new rules that will force teams and agents to change their plans this year and could keep a lot of teams out of the free-agent market entirely.

"It might mean that no rookies get signed because no one is sure of the long-term ramifications," said Tom Condon, the agent for a number of the game's top players.

Even more urgent are salary-cap ramifications for many teams, which anticipated a labor agreement and planned for a much bigger ceiling. Washington, for example, could be as much as $25 million over the salary cap after signings over the past few years that anticipated a salary cap figure well over $100 million.

The ramifications of a lower than anticipated cap were evident Wednesday, when some high-priced veterans were cut.

-- Associated Press

Broncos: Defensive end Trevor Pryce, tight end Jeb Putzier and running back Mike Anderson, the team's leading rusher last season, were cap casualties. Denver will save at least $10.6 million with the moves.

-- Associated Press

Panthers: Carolina released running back Stephen Davis, defensive tackle Brentson Buckner and kicker returner Rod Smart.

-- Associated Press

Dolphins: Miami cut left tackle Damion McIntosh, saving $3.8 million against the cap, and former Pro Bowl cornerback Sam Madison.

-- Associated Press

Bills: Defensive tackle Sam Adams was one of three players released by Buffalo. Safety Lawyer Milloy and tight end Mark Campbell also were released in moves that saved the Bills an estimated $9.1 million in cap space.

-- Associated Press

Raiders: The team agreed to a contract with Lorenzo Ward as a replacement for defensive backs coach Clayton Lopez. Ward has coached defensive backs at Virginia Tech the past seven seasons. Lopez was let go last month after two seasons in Oakland. Also, John Shoop was reassigned to tight ends coach after coaching quarterbacks last season. The move came a little more than a month after Shoop interviewed for the Raiders head coaching vacancy.

-- Steve Corkran

Colts: Indianapolis agreed to a multiyear deal with linebacker Gary Brackett, who led the team in tackles last season and was to become a restricted free agent Friday.

-- Associated Press

Buccaneers: Quarterback Chris Simms agreed to a one-year, $2.1 million contract. The signing comes just days before Simms would have become a restricted free agent and allows Tampa Bay to keep the quarterback who started the last 10 games in the 2005 season after Brian Griese suffered a knee injury.

-- Associated Press

Eagles: The team is expected to part today with wide receiver Terrell Owens -- who was suspended and exiled for the final nine games of the Eagles' first losing season since 1999. Owens would receive a $2.5 million signing bonus and a $5 million roster bonus if he remained on Philadelphia's roster heading into the NFL's 2006 business year.

-- The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.)

Steelers: Members of the team were evacuated from a movie theater after a bomb threat interrupted a private screening of a new DVD of last month's Super Bowl victory, police in Homestead, Pa., said. They found no evidence of a bomb. The players included Ben Roethlisberger, Antoine Randle El, Jerome Bettis and Hines Ward.

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