Sports Outside the Beltway

NFL Labor Deal: What Does it Mean?

The Fort-Worth Star Telegram tries to explain the impact of the NFL’s new labor deal:

1 – What’s the immediate impact of the deal?

The purging of rosters around the league will end because the salary cap will be increased from $94.5 million to $102 million in 2006. Players who have been released during the past week because of cap concerns can be recalled. Free agency will begin at 11:01 p.m. Friday with marquee players such as Drew Brees and, perhaps, Terrell Owens on the brink of a financial bonanza.

2 – What does it mean long term for the league?

The most successful and profitable sports league will remain that way. The league has not had a labor stoppage since 1987. That streak will be extended, thanks to the six-year labor deal that runs through 2011. The deal also will perhaps allow Paul Tagliabue to surpass Pete Rozelle as not only the best commissioner ever in the NFL, but in the history of sports.

3 – What does it mean long term for the players?

More money. More money. More money. The players will receive billions more dollars in salary and benefits over the next six years. The salary cap will increase to $102 million in 2006 and $109 million in 2007. It is simply a good time to be a free agent, such as running back Edgerrin James, or a top draft pick coming into this league.

4 – What does it mean long term for the owners?

Several owners walked away from the deal unhappy. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is among them because he initially opposed expanded revenue sharing. Owners will contribute 59.5 percent of their total revenue to player salaries. But there are no real losers. A new labor agreement ensures that all will continue to make money, which is why Jones voted yes in the end.

5 – What does it mean for the fans?

No strike. No lockout. Continued excitement. The sport they love the most will continue without interruption with even more competitive balance. Fans in Cincinnati, Jacksonville and Buffalo can have legitimate Super Bowls dreams just like fans in Washington, New York, New England and Dallas.

Of course, teams are still cutting high priced players whose cap value exceed their worth to the team. Willie McGinest is Exhibit A.

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