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Prospect boycott of combine not an option -- for now

DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association, held a conference call with player agents Monday, but there weren't any new discussions of a possible boycott of this month's NFL Scouting Combine.

"That's tabled," one source said of such discussions.

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However, a combine sit-out still could be brought up at a later time, although it's not likely to happen.

Smith advised the agents that he and the NFLPA would continue to fight the use of the franchise tag on players. He also gave a general overview of labor negotiations with the NFL but declined to go into specifics.

While a boycott of the Feb. 24-March 1 combine remains highly doubtful, players skipping the NFL draft in April is likely if no collective bargaining agreement is in place by next month.

Smith has individually met with top agents since the Super Bowl to discuss the potential effectiveness of having prospects skip the combine, as well as refusing to participate in any NFL events surrounding April's draft.

NFL Network insider Albert Breer also reported that the NFLPA will hold its normal meeting with agents on the Friday of combine week, but the union has made this year's meeting mandatory for all agents to have continued certification. In the past, the meeting hasn't been mandatory, but the NFLPA is changing that to emphasize the importance of the situation.

Agents generally must attend one of three NFLPA meetings during the year to maintain their certification.

The league and the union also are exploring the possibility of another CBA negotiating session this week. They had previously set up a date to talk this week, and NFLPA sources said they're waiting to hear back from the league to see if talks will occur.

Last week's talks in Washington broke down, and Thursday's session was cancelled.

Some say they aren't expecting much progress in negotiations between the NFL and the union before the CBA expires March 3.

The union has said it expects owners to lock out players if a new CBA isn't reached by the deadline.

The major issues are how to divide about $9 billion in annual revenues, the owners' push to expand the regular season to 18 games and reduce the preseason by two games, a rookie wage scale and benefits for retired players.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said earlier this month: "There are no deal-breakers."


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That includes the league's desire to expand the regular season to 18 games. Goodell said fans repeatedly tell him the quality of preseason games doesn't meet NFL standards.

"That was one of the basis at which we started to look at the 18-2 concept," he said. "I feel an obligation to do the best we can to present the highest quality. If we can't do it right, we won't do it."

The league estimates there would be a cut in gross revenues of $120 million without a new agreement by early March; $350 million if there's no CBA by August, before the preseason starts; $1 billion if no new contract is in place until September. And if regular-season games are lost, the NFL figures the revenue losses would amount to about $400 million per week.

The old deal was agreed to in 2006 and could have been in place until 2012, but owners exercised an opt-out clause in 2008.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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