NFL | Labor deal specifics; free agency to start Thursday or Friday
Tue, 7 Mar 2006 20:52:29 -0800's John Clayton reports a few provisions of the new NFL labor deal include: 1) Teams will be able to use their franchise tag on a player more than once, but if they franchise a player for a third time, they will have to do it at a salary equivalent to that of a top-five quarterback, the highest-paid position in football. 2) Contracts for players selected in rounds two through seven of the NFL Draft will be limited to four years in length. More and more teams have been trying to lock second-day draft choices into five-year contracts that prevent the player from hitting restricted free agency after year three and unrestricted free agency after year four. 3) Bonuses in contracts will be pro-rated over five years this year and over six years in 2007, but in 2008 the pro-ration reverts to five years. NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue made it clear that at this point there is no more negotiating with the union. If the owners accept the proposal before 8 p.m. ET Wednesday, March 8, free agency will start at 12:01 a.m. Friday, March 10. If there is no acceptance, free agency will start Thursday, March 9, as scheduled.