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How events of one day will be felt for quite some time

In a matter of hours, Labor Day turned into Pay Day.

First, NFL owners voted unanimously for early termination of the current collective bargaining agreement, setting up the possibility of a work stoppage in 2011.

Then, in rapid-fire fashion, the Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons doled out over $170 million worth of contracts to running back Marion Barber, cornerback Terence Newman and quarterback Matt Ryan.

May days in the NFL don't get any more chaotic than Tuesday.

But the ramifications will be felt for months, and years, to come.

» Though the 2012 and 2013 seasons were voided from the collective bargaining agreement Tuesday, the 2008, 2009 and 2010 season still remain intact. They are not in jeopardy.

But 2010 would be an uncapped year, in which the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins could turn into the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox of the National Football League. Without a new collective bargaining agreement, teams such as the Cowboys and Redskins would be allowed to spend without any limits -– and likely would.

Conversely, other teams would not be forced to spend money and there would be no salary minimums imposed on them. They could turn into the NFL's version of the Kansas City Royals and Pittsburgh Pirates.

Basically, the revenue-sharing system that former NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle helped establish over four decades ago with the help of such great and generous football men such as former Giants owner Wellington Mara would be in jeopardy.

The league's 32 owners decided unanimously to shorten a deal they no longer believed was working for them. Vic Carucci says let's get one thing clear from the start: The NFL sky is not falling.

They did not put the immediate future of their game in peril. They did not draw a proverbial line in the sand for the NFL Players Association, looking to instigate the sort of ugly labor fight they've been able to avoid for more than two decades. ** More**

» If there is no extension of the collective bargaining agreement, football as we know it would change dramatically.

Under Article XVII from the 2006 collective bargaining agreement, "the NFL may remove the Entering Player Pool at its option in any Uncapped year by notice to the NFLPA at least 60 days prior to the scheduled date of the Draft that League Year."

In other words, the NFL could opt out of the rookie draft pool that has been a lightning rod for criticism two months before the 2010 draft. And then, if a new collective bargaining agreement still were not hammered out –- and we're really getting ahead ourselves here -– no drafts after 2011 would be allowed.


» Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is spending money as if he is getting ready to open a new stadium (oh, that's right, he is!).

He spent $98.5 million on Barber and Newman, reaching an agreement with Barber on a seven-year, $45 million contrat that included $16 million in guaranteed money and $21 million in the first three years of the deal, and reaching an agreement with Newman on a six-year, $50.8 million extension that includes $22.5 million guaranteed.

Barber's deal topped the six-year, $34.5 million deal given to Falcons free-agent running back Michael Turner; Newman's deal is the largest given to a player who will turn 30 during the season of his new deal.

And Jones provided a hint as to what would come in 2010 if there is no salary cap -- more of what he spent Tuesday.

» The Falcons signed Ryan to a whopping six-year, $72 million deal that included a staggering $34.5 million in guaranteed money. The deal included $66 million for 6 years for minimum playtime, and another $6 million in top-performance escalators, bringing the maximum value of the deal to $72 million over six years.

Over the first three years, Ryan will make $34.75 million, which is $4.75 million more than No. 1 overall pick Jake Long and $250,000 more than last year's No. 1 overall pick, JaMarcus Russell.

Over the first four years, Ryan will make $45 million, which is $5 million more than Long and $500,000 more than Russell.

Over the first five years, Ryan will make $56 million, which is $6 million more than Long and $1.5 million more than Russell.

The deal represents an 8 percent increase over Russell's six-year, $61 million deal. The Falcons paid a premium for a quarterback, something they never would have had to do had Michael Vick not gotten into trouble.

And keep this in mind: Vick still is scheduled to count $7.5 million against the Falcons salary cap this season, almost three times as much as the $2.8 million that Ryan is scheduled to count against Atlanta's salary cap.

» Good luck to the Rams and Raiders, who now need to try to sign their first-round picks.

The Rams selected defensive end Chris Long with the second overall pick, one spot ahead of Ryan. Long could make the argument that he deserves as much as the third overall pick. And running back Darren McFadden was picked fourth overall, one spot after Ryan. More than likely, he will be seeking money close to Ryan, though the Raiders will want to pay him more like last year's seventh overall pick, running back Adrian Peterson.

Still, Ryan's deal just made St. Louis' and Oakland's negotiations a whole lot tougher.

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