Thursday, March 3, 2011
Cowboys stand pat before deadline
By Calvin Watkins
The NFL and the NFLPA agreed on a 24-hour extension Thursday to prevent a possible lockout, but several teams made roster moves in anticipation of a work stoppage.
As part of Thursday's agreement, even though an extension was granted, the league year has ended. Teams could no longer cut, re-sign players or make any player moves after 10:59 p.m. CT Thursday, until there's a new CBA.
League spokesman Greg Aiello confirmed the transaction freeze via text, saying teams are free to negotiate with players and agents, but signings are prohibited.
Before the deadline, San Diego signed safety Bob Sanders on Thursday night and A.J. Hawk inked a five-year deal with the Green Bay Packers.
The Cowboys must now wait for a new collective bargaining agreement to sign a free agent or make any other move. The team extended its tender offers to a handful of its free agents and has signed a few players to futures contracts. But it has not invited free agents to Valley Ranch to gauge their interest in the Cowboys.
Whenever the CBA is settled, the new league year will commence. The Cowboys have 15 days to make a decision on whether to pick up Marc Colombo's $2.6 million option bonus. There are some other roster bonuses the team has to make decisions on, such as Marion Barber's $500,000, but that's not due until June.
Of course, the NFL draft will take place regardless of whether there is league business. But teams will be unable to sign or release players during a lockout.
On Wednesday, Cowboys coaches spoke with several players about the offseason plan in the event of a work stoppage. Players would be banned from going to Valley Ranch, and coaches are not allowed to speak with them away from the facility.
But this recent development might give the union and the owners even more time. The mediator might give the sides another extension of seven to 10 days to possibly come to an agreement.