NEW YORK -- NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been given a new five-year contract as the league heads into a key period of labor negotiations that could lead to a work stoppage in 2011.
Goodell replaced Paul Tagliabue on Sept. 1, 2006, and his contract was due to expire this September. The NFL said Friday that owners voted to award the new contract when they met in December, and Goodell's new deal runs until March 2015.
"We're going into a major negotiation," New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft said during a telephone interview. "It will be very difficult probably in many ways, and we want to have someone who has his own views, who's going to have to make some hard decisions that maybe some of us won't like.
"But in the end, I think we're confident that he and his team will do what's for the best long-term interest of the league," added Kraft, who's a member of the league's compensation committee. "Having stability in our management team is critical."
Goodell's new deal and the NFL's latest federal tax filing were first reported Friday by Sports Business Journal, and the league then released the information to The Associated Press.
Next season, the last under the current agreement, is on track to be played without a salary cap. NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith said last week that the union views the chance of a lockout as a "14" on a scale of 1-to-10. That would end a streak of labor peace since the 1987 strike led to the cancellation of 14 games and three weeks of play with replacement players.
"Commissioner Goodell and his staff have done an outstanding job and this is a statement of confidence in Roger's leadership," said Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, who chairs the compensation committee. "NFL ownership recognizes his already significant list of accomplishments and is fully behind his strategic vision for the future of our league."
While all terms of the new deal haven't been completed, Blank said Goodell's annual compensation will be unchanged.
The NFL said a year ago that Goodell voluntarily took a cut of 20 to 25 percent and he and other league executives were freezing their salaries for 2009. That announcement was made at the same time the league announced it cut 169 jobs through buyouts, layoffs and other staff reductions, a drop of just over 15 percent of a work force that had been 1,100.
The tax return for the year ending last March 31 showed Goodell made $9,759,000, of which $2.9 million was salary and $6.55 million bonus and incentive compensation.
Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig had compensation of $17,470,491 for the year ending Oct. 31, 2007, according to the sport's last available tax return.
"I think Roger and his team run the entire business in a way that in today's economic environment is just outstanding," Kraft said. "And I'm comfortable with the way we're rewarding him. He on his own declined to take a bonus that we wanted to give him last year because he didn't think it was appropriate."
Compensations listed for other top officials included executive vice president of media Steve Bornstein ($7,478,000), executive vice president and general counsel Jeff Pash ($4,845,000), executive vice president business ventures Eric Grubman ($4,453,000), executive vice president public relations and government relations Joe Browne ($1,741,000), executive vice president football operations Ray Anderson ($1,158,000) and chief financial officer Anthony Noto ($853,000). Tagliabue received $3,195,000.
In a separate filing, executive vice president Harold Henderson was listed at $2,087,000.
"It's a tremendous amount of money. But if you look at it on a competitive basis, you understand that we can't bring in people from the outside and overnight they know what they're doing," Kraft said. "We have to promote people from within because it's a complicated organization. They're a lot of nuances. So we have to find good people, develop them and then make sure we're compensating them very fairly. Otherwise, they would have alternatives of going to other places."
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press