Talks between league, NFLPA continue

INDIANAPOLIS — Another round of labor talks between the NFL and NFLPA took place Thursday amid the start of the combine, but there were no indications that a new collective bargaining agreement will be reached before March 5, thus, a season without a salary cap seems a certainty, although no one is saying that on the record.

Negotiating committees for the NFL, including Commissioner Roger Goodell, and the NFLPA – executive director DeMaurice Smith, Colts center Jeff Saturday and Chiefs linebacker Mike Vrabel were among several participants — met for more than 90 minutes. The meeting took place at an area hotel and ran about 30 minutes longer than planned. Neither side commented after the meeting ended.

Smith and other NFLPA executives will meet with player representatives and some agents at a meeting later Friday. The NFLPA will address a larger group of agents and player reps at a meeting Friday. The state of labor talks and how they will impact players and agents will be the main subject of discussion.

It is not known if or when there will be more talks between the NFL and NFLPA before March 5, but an uncapped year has seemed inevitable for months. There will be no spending cap — or floor — in terms what how teams pay players. Free agency will be far more limited as a result and teams can also dump contracts of players who haven’t lived up to them without suffering any penalties that could have been triggered under the old salary cap rules.

The current CBA expires in 2011. If no deal is reached by then, a work stoppage is possible. Smith has said the NFL has positioned itself for a lockout by securing television deals that would pay it during a work stoppage. Goodell said it would be unwise to think that owners want to not have football.

— Steve Wyche

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