Seahawks front-office officials decided by the middle of the season that Shaun Alexander was worth a huge long-term investment, and they embarked on a serious effort to sign the running back to a big contract extension. Still no deal. NFL execs around the league wonder why Alexander hasn't already agreed to a contract, especially with such uncertainty looming regarding the league's labor situation. Alexander gambled that he'd gain increased leverage by playing out his deal and becoming an unrestricted free agent after the season. In some respects, the gamble paid off, because he turned in an MVP performance during the regular season and has helped the Seahawks reach the Super Bowl. But with the increased likelihood that the NFL and the NFL Players Association will be unable to strike a deal on a collective-bargaining agreement extension, Alexander may have unwittingly priced himself out of the deal he might have received. Here's the problem: If the league and the players' union don't agree on a CBA extension, and if Alexander doesn't sign with Seattle before the March 3 free-agency period begins, he will enter a very uncertain labor market. Without a CBA extension, any signing bonus Alexander agrees to can be prorated over only four years, which puts a heavy strain on the salary cap of any team that signs him, including the Seahawks. Had he signed during the season, Seattle could have spread the bonus money over five seasons.