by Michael Stephens

The NFL extended its deadline for free agency by three days, putting off the mass layoffs of high-priced players temporarily, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.Paul Tagliabue Wants Labor Peace

League V.P. Joe Browne announced that the NFL’s owners voted to extend its standoff with the players union after a 57-minute meeting earlier in the day. An impressive 13 years of peace between the league and union are currently on the verge of unraveling.

The situation is as dire as dire can be,” said Commissioner Paul Tagliabue (pictured).

The delay gives the union 72 hours to negotiate an extension to the labor agreement, which could add $10 million to the current salary cap of $94.5 million. Many teams spent the day in salary cap scrambles, trying to get under the number and slashing payroll anywhere they can. Mike Anderson of the Denver Broncos is among the notable casualties so far.

Free agency will now start at 12:01 a.m. EST Monday.

It is hard to predict how the tenuous situation will play out, but for now, the move puts off free agency for a pair of elite running backs — NFL MVP Shaun Alexander of Seattle and Edgerrin James of Indianapolis — along with a host of other talented players. The labor standoff leaves both players and front offices in a state of flux.

While the extension rekindled hope that the sides will reach a solution, the head of the union offered no retreat from the usual rhetoric. Gene Upshaw, executive director of the NFL Players Association, is asking for 60 percent of league revenue for players, four percentage points more than the owners are offering.

“I won’t come down. The players know that. Only the owners can make a proposal,” he said.

There are two years left on the labor agreement, which was first signed in 1993 and has been extended continually before its deadline. But unless there is an agreement, there will be no salary cap as of, which could create a baseball-like free-for-all and forever alter the NFL landscape.

Other fallout from the doomsday scenario: drafted players would also be bound to their teams for six years instead of four, and there would be no minimum salary set. This news is likely to send fantasy leagues across the country into a tailspin. Okay, maybe not. But whatever results from the weekend’s negotiations, do not draft Joey Harrington. That is all I have to say on the matter.



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