February 2006 - Football Wiretap
NFL Labor Talks Break Off
NFL labor talks broke off Tuesday three days before the start of free agency, leaving teams and players in a quandary about negotiating new contracts. Gene Upshaw, executive director of the NFL Players Association, spent the last three days meeting in New York and Washington with commissioner Paul Tagliabue. "We're deadlocked. There's nowhere to go," Upshaw said. "There's no reason to continue meeting." Although the contract does not expire until after the 2007 season, this is a critical period in the negotiations to extend the 12-year-old contract. Talks have been going on for more than a year. Free agency is scheduled to start Friday. If the deal is not extended, this would be the last year with a salary cap, so agents and team officials want to know how to structure contracts. For example, if there is no extension, the salary cap is expected to be about $95 million this season and annual raises after 2006 in a long-term deal would be limited to 30 percent. If the deal is extended the cap could be $10 million or more higher. The sides have agreed on a number of issues. The biggest one is changing the formula for the amount of money to go to the players from "designated gross revenues" -- primarily television and ticket sales -- to "total gross revenues," which include almost every bit a money a a team generates. However, they differ on the percentage of revenues to be allocated to the players -- the union is asking for 60 percent and the league's current offer is 56.2 percent.
Tampa Bay Re-Signs Bolden
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers re-signed cornerback Juran Bolden Monday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Bolden is entering his ninth season. In his first season in Tampa Bay last year, he played a career-high 16 games with two starts. He had a career-high 42 tackles and two interceptions for the Bucs, who led the league in total defense.
Lloyd Will Have Suitors In Weak Free Agent Class
Facing a weak market for receivers, the 49ers plan to hold on to restricted free agent Brandon Lloyd by offering him a first-round tender later this week. If Lloyd, the team's leading receiver last season, signs the offer, he will get a one-year contract worth about $1.6 million. The move allows the 49ers to match any offer given to Lloyd by another team once free agency begins, and more importantly, would require any team that signs Lloyd to hand over a first-round draft pick as compensation. Lloyd's value likely is higher this season because there will be few quality wide receivers on the free-agent market and few available in the draft. At the scouting combine last week, coach Mike Nolan said there was a possibility the 49ers could start the season with virtually the same receiving corps they had last season.
Abraham To Houston For First Pick?
Texans general manager Charley Casserly has indicated a willingness to trade the No. 1 overall pick in the April 29 NFL draft. Now the question is which team, if any, will take the bait. The Jets? A person with knowledge of a potential draft-day deal said last night that the Texans might be interested in the Jets' No. 4 overall pick if the right package were presented. Such a trade almost certainly would include defensive end John Abraham. If it were made, the Jets would be interested in drafting quarterback Matt Leinart, the 2004 Heisman Trophy winner who led USC to back-to-back national titles. "The Giants traded up from No. 4 to No. 1 to get Eli Manning," the person said. "So why not the Jets? This could be their chance to make the same kind of splash as the Giants. Leinart has that star quality that would play well in New York." Neither Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum nor coach Eric Mangini has tipped his hand about draft-day intentions. But a person familiar with the Jets' thinking last night shot down any proposed deal, saying, "There's nothing to it."
Moulds Rejects Bills' Offer For Restructured Contract
Eric Moulds rejected the Buffalo Bills' offer Monday for restructuring his hefty contract, a decision that could lead the team to release its veteran star receiver by as early as this week. "Based on what they're proposing, I guess it's not encouraging," Moulds' agent Harry Henderson told The Associated Press by telephone following a meeting with team officials. "We're way off. ... Our attitude has been optimistic, but realistically it may not happen." Moulds, a 10-year veteran and the team's senior player, has two years left on his contract, scheduled to count $10.85 million against the salary cap next season. His salary would represent about one-ninth of the projected cap, a figure the Bills deem far too expensive.
Lewis Vows To Cut Player Who Leaked Story
Although he is not one of the NFL head coaches who have embraced the ?one voice? stance, and precluded his assistants from speaking to the media during the season, Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis apparently feels his team had one voice too many in its season-ending playoff loss, ESPN.com reported. Appearing at the NFL Scouting Combine, Lewis vowed to release the player who leaked to the media reports of an explosion by star wide receiver Chad Johnson at halftime of the Jan. 8 wild-card playoff game against Pittsburgh. ?Unfortunately, we had somebody else who was more selfish than Chad,? Lewis said. ?That person won't be with us next year, I'll tell you that.? So far, no one has identified the source of the story. It could be a difficult move, too, if the player is a starter, as some Cincinnati veterans have hinted.
Young Improves Wonderlic Score
After a rumor spread through the NFL combine Saturday that the Texas quarterback had scored a shockingly low 6 on the Wonderlic test, Young reportedly took the test again and scored a much more acceptable 16. According to a report in the Houston Chronicle, the original report of Young's 6 was false. "I've been told it was inaccurate by a source good enough for me to quote it," Texans general manager Charley Casserly said Sunday afternoon. The test, which consists of 50 non-football related questions in 12 minutes, is designed to determine a prospect's ability to learn. A low score could dramatically impact a prospect's draft position; according to the report, no coach, scout or general manager surveyed could produce an example of a starting quarterback with a single-digit Wonderlic score. A score of 20 indicates average intelligence and corresponds roughly to an IQ of 100. However, it has long been believed that the test is culturally biased and many executives administer additional tests to supplement the Wonderlic.
Jurevicius And Seahawks Hope To Have Contract Done By Friday
Joe Jurevicius would like to remain a Seahawk, and the team has expressed its desire to retain him, his agent said. If he is not re-signed by Friday, the free-agent market should be good for Jurevicius, who caught 55 passes for 694 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.
Arizona Appears Out Of Alexander Running
Maybe it's just some pre-free agency posturing, but it sounds like one team rumored to be very interested in signing Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander is not so big on the idea. That team would be the Arizona Cardinals. They have plenty of room under the salary cap to do some things in free agency and were put into the mix for Alexander because of their cap space and their struggles with a running game last season. Running backs Marcel Shipp and J.J. Arrington did not produce the way the Cardinals had hoped, and Alexander will be a free agent unless the Seahawks can reach an agreement with him before Friday. But comments from Arizona coach Dennis Green and Rod Graves, vice president of football operations, at the NFL combine indicate the Cardinals aren't too willing to make the big splash. "A blockbuster deal in my opinion is one that eats up most of your cap space," Green said. "It means you get one player and one and done. And we're not going to do that. If you ask me if we're going to go after one of the incredible backs that might be available in a blockbuster deal, that probably will not happen."
Jets Want Leinart?
The NFL combine workouts are a breeding ground for rumors, and one that sprang to life Sunday night was a doozy: The Jets are the team that is hottest to trade up with the Houston Texans for the first overall pick in the April draft. And the player the Jets want, according to the scuttlebutt, is Southern Cal quarterback Matt Leinart. The buzz makes sense from the stated positions of the teams involved. Houston general manager Charley Casserly said earlier Sunday that the Texans already have talked with "a couple of teams," none of which he identified, about trading the top pick.
Texans Talking To Teams About Trading Pick
Texans general manager Charley Casserly said that the Texans have been talking to teams about possibly trading the first pick in the 2006 draft.
Wilf Plans To Commit To Daunte
Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said Saturday he plans to pay Daunte Culpepper a $6 million roster bonus on March 17.
Where Will T.O. Go?
The Eagles probably won't be able to trade Terrell Owens, who is expected to be released soon. The Broncos will be in the hunt for his services, but don't count out the Cowboys.
Seymour Could Break The Bank In An Uncapped Year
''He'd be the new Reggie White," one agent said. Agent Leigh Steinberg said, ''I think that there would be certain teams that would be free spenders if we get to an uncapped year.
Upshaw Gets Even More Serious
The NFL players union is instructing agents to negotiate contracts as if no new labor deal will be in place during free agency.
Eagles Target Randle El
Antwaan Randle El seems to be their main target, as the free-agent wideout with the biggest upside, assuming the Pittsburgh Steelers, faced with 11 potential free agents, can't keep him.
Miami Expects Minnesota To Release Culpepper
The Dolphins are not interested in a trade for Daunte Culpepper at this point. They are interested in Culpepper if he is released and also in Drew Brees.
Panthers Name Foster Their Transition Player
The Carolina Panthers protected running back DeShaun Foster from free agency Thursday by naming him their transition player.