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2010: No salary cap, free agency for 6-year guys

I hear a lot of guys tell me the Dolphins should be good by 2010 or 2011. Wouldn't you know something may happen to derail those fanciful championship seasons.

NFL owners voted this morning to terminate the current Collective Bargaining Agreement two years early. The unanimous vote (that's 32-0) means a league that has had labor peace since 1993 is headed for problems interesting times starting in the 2010 season.

The owners' decision means if there is no new CBA negotiated before March 2009, the 2010 season will have no salary cap. There will be, however, some limits on free agency. Free agency will be limited to players with six years experience rather than four as is the current setup.

So $160 million payrolls? It will be possible.

And -- it gets better -- if no new CBA is negotiated, players could be locked out before the 2011 season. Owners would have a choice between a work stoppage or replacement games. So much for Miami's Super Bowl title that year. Anything could happen then.

The primary reason owners opted out today is they are unhappy with the current CBA which grants players 59 percent of all league revenues. In other words, 59 cents of every dollar the NFL makes goes to players. Given rising costs and a bad economy, owners say there is less ability to successfully reinvest in the game.

For high value teams such as the Jets, Giants and Dallas Cowboys, that means the desire to build a stadium carries high bond rates and thus more debt. Once those teams realized they carry more debt without the players making any greater sacrifices, the deal became unpalatable.

"There are substantial element of the deal that simply are not working," said a release from the NFL. "For example, as interpreted by the courts, the current CBA effectively prohibits the clubs from recouping bonuses paid to players who subsequently breach their player contracts or refuse to perform. That is simply irrational and unfair to both fans and players who honor their contracts."

Owners also want a rookie cap that limits the pay of rookies who have never played a down in the league. FYI: Jake Long is the NFL's highest paid offensive lineman this year. Owners want that sort of thing to stop because it is a bad investment formula.

The NFL Players Association was expecting owners to opt out. Union president Gene Upshaw has been meeting with players, urging them to hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. That includes a lockout for 2011.

Upshaw will conduct a press conference on this matter later today to answer the owners' actions. But at a presser during the Super Bowl, he drew the line that will cause friction in the coming negotiations. He said, flat out, that players were not backing down from the 59 percent deal.

"We're not giving money back," he said.

What a country!

[This will be one of several offerings today. In an effort to serve you better, I'm going to write several shorter items on some days rather than one long item. After checking out this item, take a look at the new Jason Taylor item as well.]

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