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Monday, March 06, 2006

NFL Deadline Now Thursday; Rams Release Isaac Bruce; Raiders Keep Collins for Now

The NFL reset its deadline for Thursday at 12 Midnight, givjng teams more time to work through contract restructuring and more time for the league to get it's CBA house in order.

The Rams released WR Isaac Bruce while the Raiders still held on the QB Kerry Collins. I think both teams will have their vets back if the CBA matter is cleared.

Matt Birk: Matt Fires Off on NFL PA's Upshaw, But Makes No Sense In The Process

The "rant" he went on was just that, because Matt didn't explain exactly what Gene was doing wrong. Note to Matt: when you take time to call someone a name over the way they do a job, at least provide a detailed alternative approach. Or if you're trying to say "everything's fine" then say that, but it reads as if you're saying two messages at once: everything's fine and nothing's fine. Makes no sense to me.

But this rant is also a warning to Gene. It may be a style issue. If Gene is perceived as letting his ego get in the way of player's needs and is not appropriately accessible, it could cost him in the future.

Vikings' Birk rips NFL union boss Upshaw
‘What's going on right now is hurting all of us,’ says former Pro Bowler

NBCSports.com news services

Updated: 6:59 p.m. ET March 3, 2006

Minnesota Vikings center Matt Birk is not happy with the job being done by Gene Upshaw, executive director of the NFL Players' Association. Not at all.

Birk sounded off to columnist Mark Craig in Friday's edition of the Minnesota Star-Tribune.

"Don't put this in the paper ... no, wait, go ahead and put it in," Birk told Craig. "Gene Upshaw is a piece of (expletive). Too many guys in the league just accept whatever Gene says. I don't know why no one has called this guy out."

The former Pro Bowler believes the recent breakdown in negotiations between the NFL and the players' union is hurting the sport.

"It's a joke, it really is," Birk said in the paper. "Everyone is making money. A lot of money. You think anyone wants to hear about the money problems of the NFL owners or players? It's bad pub for the league. It's bad for all of us."

Birk, a Harvard graduate, says the prospects of a uncapped season -- something that could happen if a deal is not struck before the end of this weekend -- aren't good for everyone.

"When you go to those CBA meetings, you always feel like you're being sold something instead of being given the straight facts," Birk told the paper. "Through all the meetings leading up to this, it was always: 'The owners don't want an uncapped year. We'll get a deal, and if we don't, so what? There will be an uncapped year and there will be crazy money out there.'

"The reality is that's not the case. And you're seeing that it's not the leverage we were told it would be."

If there is no deal and the cap doesn’t increase, it would leave a glut of players on the free-agent market and many teams without much money to sign them. Next year, the final season of the contract, would be without a cap — and that would contain limitations that could hurt the players, such as raising the number of years of eligibility for free agency from four to six.

"And we'll lose some of our 401(k) and annuities, and some benefits, too," Birk said. "That's a huge deal to the younger guys making the minimum who might not have 10-year careers. Those are guys the union needs to look out for.

On the surface, the dispute is over percentage points -- the union says it wants 60-plus percent of league revenues earmarked for the players; the owners are offering 56.2 percent. That amounts to approximately $10 million per team per year.

"Gene thinks we're making all this money because of Gene Upshaw," Birk told the paper. "No, we're making all of this money because of TV. This sport is huge, and what's going on right now is hurting all of us."

Skip Bayless: Gene Upshaw's Selling NFL Players "Down The River"

On 1st and 10, an ESPN show, commentator Skip Bayless claims that NFL Players Association Executive Director Gene Upshaw is selling the players "down the river" and should be seeking guaranteed player contracts. He claims that Gene's a tool of the NFL owners.

As usual, Skip's on the wrong side of the argument. Gene is mindful of how the pursuit of totally guaranteed contracts would not only eventually lead to a work stopage, but cut off his players from making money, and turn the fans -- most of which favor the owners position, further against the players in an age where people are just trying to get jobs.

Gene's doing the right thing and has a more complete vision of how to get this deal done.

Seahawks sign Shaun Alexander for $62 million - 8-year deal is largest ever for running back

From The Seattle Post - Intelligencer


Shaun Alexander returned to the Seattle area Sunday night, and he's not headed anywhere else for the foreseeable future.

At least not in terms of his football future.

Alexander has agreed to re-sign with the Seattle Seahawks, agreeing to an eight-year contract worth $62 million. In terms of total money in the contract, it is the largest ever signed by a running back; $15 million is to be paid in the first year.

Agent Jim Steiner gave the contract terms to The Associated Press. Sources close to the situation confirmed Alexander's decision to re-sign. The Seahawks had no comment, as the contract had not been completed. A news conference announcing Alexander's return likely will be today at the team's headquarters in Kirkland.

Alexander returned to Seattle on Sunday after attending banquets on the East Coast and Kansas City. He left his cell-phone charger on the East Coast, leaving his phone out of juice.

He could not be reached Sunday evening, but the electricity of his decision was reverberating around the Puget Sound area, as Alexander is returning to the team he helped reach its first Super Bowl last season.

Sunday began with Alexander just hours away from becoming a free agent. Never mind that the start to free agency was eventually delayed as the league's owners and players union continued negotiating an extension to the collective-bargaining agreement. The whole question of free agency is irrelevant when it comes to Alexander.

After a year in which Alexander was asked about his free-agent future at least once a week, he never ended up getting there. It was about the only destination that Alexander didn't reach in a season when he set the league's single-season record for touchdowns, was named NFL MVP and became the franchise's career-leading rusher.

He has 7,817 yards in six years as a Seahawk, a total to which he can now add.

In those six seasons, Alexander has never missed a game, and he has rushed for more than 1,150 yards in each of the five seasons since he supplanted Ricky Watters as the team's starting running back.
In 2004, he finished second in the league in rushing. This season, he won the rushing title with 1,880 yards. He scored 28 touchdowns, breaking Priest Holmes' single-season league record.

Alexander's future was a source of scrutiny since February 2005, when Matt Hasselbeck and Walter Jones signed long-term deals. Alexander got a one-year deal worth $6.32 million as the team's franchise player. Hardly chump change, but security in the NFL is written by long-term contracts -- the kind Alexander will sign this week.

Hasselbeck and Jones remain the highest-paid Seahawks, but in terms of mechanics, the total sum of Alexander's contract surpasses the $60 million deal that LaDainian Tomlinson signed with the San Diego Chargers. However, about $20 million of Tomlinson's deal was guaranteed.

Alexander signed the one-year contract in July, days before training camp, but only after being guaranteed he would be an unrestricted free agent if he didn't work out a contract extension with the Seahawks.

After signing the contract, Alexander was unfailingly optimistic a deal would be worked out, and he never wavered from the expectation he would stay a Seahawk throughout a season in which the contract discussions could be described as polite, but not overwhelmingly productive.

As with so many negotiations, it took a deadline to produce a deal, and Sunday, Alexander took a last look at the possibility of a free-agent future before agreeing to return to Seattle.

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