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Talks break off without; no progress is reported


Published: Sat, March 4, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.


Owners and players are trying to reach an agreement on salary cap.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Talks between the NFL and its union broke off Saturday with no progress, although the sides agreed to meet again today.
The stalemate increased the possibility that many high-priced free agents would come on the market as teams struggled to get under the salary cap by 6 p.m. today, the deadline for when teams must be under the cap.
"No progress has been made, but we expect more discussions to take place before Sunday night," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said.
Troy Vincent of the Buffalo Bills, the union's president, said Gene Upshaw, its executive director and chief negotiator had flown back to Washington but could return Sunday for talks. "There's not much movement," Vincent said.
Earlier in the week, negotiations broke off and the league set the salary cap for free agency at $94.5 million.
Teams with a salary load far higher than that had anticipated an agreement that could have given them extra room to keep veterans, perhaps $10 million more with a new deal.
Wholesale cuts likely
If not, it's likely a number of teams would have to make wholesale cuts, some involving big-name veterans such as Kansas City's Will Shields, Tampa Bay's Derrick Brooks and the New York Jets' Kevin Mawae and Chad Pennington.
Gene Upshaw, executive director of the NFL Players Association, said after the earlier talks broke off that the NFL was offering $56.2 percent of its total revenues to the players. Upshaw has said he will not go under 60 percent.
But the problem involves more than that, notably a dispute among owners over revenue sharing. Low-revenue teams complain that they would have to contribute a higher percentage of the money they get from advertising, naming rights and other nontelevision and ticket revenue than big-market teams.
Upshaw has always wanted that issue decided first among the owners, but that isn't likely happen in these last-minute talks, which began Friday after the deadline for free agency was extended three days from Friday at 12:01 a.m. until Monday at the same time.
The labor agreement, extended several times since it was agreed to in 1992, has another two years to run. But 2006 would be the last year with a salary cap.
There would be no cap next year, but also many changes in the rules, including some the players find unappealing -- six years for a player to get to free agency instead of four and no minimum amount that teams have to spend.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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