- Jan 22, 2006
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http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/06/AR2006030601834_pf.htmlTagliabue To Deliver Owners a Proposal
If Rejected, Union Will Cease Talks
By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 7, 2006; E01
NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue is scheduled to present a proposed labor settlement to team owners today in Dallas, and several sources around the league said yesterday they expected the proposal to be delivered with Tagliabue's endorsement.
A league spokesman denied the endorsement, however, saying that Tagliabue had not agreed to the proposal, which was formulated by the players' union and will be put before the owners during a meeting scheduled to begin this afternoon at a Dallas hotel. The league plans for the owners to vote on the proposal today or tomorrow.
Greg Aiello, the NFL's vice president of public relations, said the prospective settlement that Tagliabue will present to the owners will be solely the union's proposal and the commissioner will not offer a recommendation about whether he thinks it should be ratified.
Gene Upshaw, the executive director of the NFL Players Association, said last night that Tagliabue had made no formal promise to support the proposal, but he thinks that Tagliabue is in favor of a settlement.
"Everyone wants to know if he's going to endorse it," Upshaw said in a telephone interview. "My main issue is that he presents it. He doesn't get a vote. The owners have the votes. [But] if he didn't support it, you wouldn't think he'd be presenting it."
The deal requires the approval of 24 of the 32 teams. It is possible that the owners' meeting will spill over into tomorrow. NFL teams face a deadline of tomorrow night to be under next season's salary cap of $94.5 million per club, and the free agent market is scheduled to open at 12:01 a.m. Thursday. The owners and players already have agreed to push back the opening of the free agent market twice, hoping for the completion and ratification of a labor deal that would raise next season's salary cap as high as $108 million per team and ensure continued labor peace.
Representatives of the owners and the union met yesterday in New York to put the players' proposal into writing. Upshaw said afterward that there would be no further negotiations between the two sides and free agency will begin as scheduled Thursday if the owners reject the proposal. If the owners ratify the proposal, Upshaw said, the salary cap deadline and opening of free agency would be pushed back by a day. Teams would have to be under the readjusted salary cap by Thursday night and the free agent market would open at 12:01 a.m. Friday. The owners and players agreed yesterday to that one-day delay if the deal is approved by the owners.
"We've put together a term sheet that will be presented to the owners, and then it's up to them," Upshaw said. "It's either yes or no. There's no more negotiating on either side. I'm done after this. Paul is done."
Upshaw said the revised salary cap that would go into effect if the settlement is approved has been determined, but he declined to reveal it. He also declined to comment on the details of the proposed settlement that will be put before the owners.
Earlier, several sources said they believed that Tagliabue would push to get the proposal ratified. The owner of one NFL team, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the deliberations were at a sensitive stage, said he regarded the proposal that will be put before the owners as essentially a tentative agreement between Upshaw and Tagliabue. A top front-office executive from another club said his team had the same understanding.
A person familiar with the negotiations said the proposed settlement is more complex than reports saying that it would give players 59.5 percent of an expanded pool of league revenues as compensation. The salary cap figure would fluctuate annually based not only on changes in league revenues, the source said, but also on how much money the 32 teams collectively spent above or below the flexible salary cap the previous season.
If the teams collectively spent less than the salary cap allotment in a season, the next season's cap would move upward to increase player compensation. If the clubs collectively spent more than the salary cap allotment in a season, the cap would move lower the following season to lower the players' money guarantee.
In the 12 seasons that the NFL has had a salary cap system, such "cash over cap" expenditures by teams have averaged about 4 percent annually. But the expenditures have been far less over the past five seasons, producing problems for the negotiators in this round of bargaining in assessing how much extra money teams will spend in future seasons.
Negotiations between the league and union broke off Sunday. But the night ended with the league agreeing to present the union's proposal to the owners today. The union and league agreed Sunday to postpone the opening of the free agent market until 12:01 a.m. Thursday to give the owners time to consider the proposal.
The talks broke off Sunday with the union apparently seeking about 59.5 percent of league revenues under the salary cap system, and the owners apparently offering about 56.5 percent. But that gap perhaps could be bridged by a mechanism to factor "cash over cap" expenditures into the salary cap.
Upshaw previously has said that any labor settlement would have to be accompanied by an agreement among the owners for the teams to increase the degree to which they share their locally generated revenues. But there have been deep divisions among the owners over revenue-sharing issues.
The owners' meeting is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. today.
Teams continued to make moves yesterday. The Miami Dolphins released linebacker Junior Seau and the St. Louis Rams signed defensive tackle La'Roi Glover, who'd been released last week by the Dallas Cowboys.