NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was in town Monday for a speaking engagment later at Davidson College, and stopped by Bank of America Stadium to meet with owner Jerry Richardson and team officials.
He talked with reporters for a few moments, touching on a number of topics but mostly the progress toward a new CBA with the players union. The current deal would expire after the 2010 season, but if they get to next March without a contract, the last season would be played without a salary cap.
The looming uncapped year, Goodell said, will not serve as a deterrent to teams. While many have long felt that taking away the limits teams spend would create baseball-style haves and have-nots, the reality is it’s accompanied with no salary floor and new limits on which players qualify for free agency (moving the bar from four years to six).
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“No, they’re not afraid of it,” Goodell said. “We prepared for it, we planned for it. It’s not, .. we would like to get an extension to the collective bargaining agreement, but the owners are prepared for that.”
The two sides have agreed to limit the amount of public posturing, and Goodell measured his words carefully when asked his thoughts on how the negotiations would end.
“ I’m not characterizing my degree of hopefulness,” he said. “I think this is something that is an opportunity for all of us to create a system that is good for the players and the owners long term. I think we all need to address it professionally and it a fashion at the table so that everyone understand the various positions and hopefully we can get a resolution. ...
“I don’t think me handing out artificial timetables is going to help either. We’re working diligently and we’ll continue to be there at any point in time where we can make enough progress to get something done. But an artificial deadline won’t help.”