NFL labor talks force McCown to wait for free agency - East Valley Tribune: Sports

NFL labor talks force McCown to wait for free agency

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Posted: Tuesday, March 7, 2006 6:04 am | Updated: 4:09 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

For now, Josh McCown waits. Free agency isn’t here yet for the soon-to-be former Cardinals quarterback. Instead of climbing on planes traveling from city to city to visit prospective employers, he was at home Monday with his family.

Life, thanks to two deadline extensions delaying the free agent process, is on hold.

“My older brother is about to have his third child and I told him we’re in the same boat,” McCown said. “You know it’s going to happen, you know it’ll be fun when it happens, but it’s frustrating not knowing when.

“It’s like they’re moving back Christmas.”

McCown is living in limbo while the NFL owners and the NFL Players Association try to work out a new collective bargaining agreement. While the free agent period was supposed to have begun Thursday night, it now stands to start Wednesday night at 10 p.m. Arizona time.

Today is crucial in that timeline. NFL owners meet in Dallas to decide whether to accept the NFLPA’s latest offer. The owners themselves are not even on the same page when it comes to revenue sharing, and it remains questionable a collective bargaining agreement can be reached.

Only if a deal is not reached — and the league is forced to head into free agency with a salary cap around $94.5 million, while many teams are forced to release some highly paid players — is free agency expected to finally start Wednesday.

“We’ll keep re-evaluating as names come up,” Cardinals vice president of football operations Rod Graves said last week.

If a deal is actually reached, the salary cap is expected to climb to between $103 million and $105 million, and free agency is almost certain to be delayed again while the details of the deal are ironed out.

McCown said he thought free agency might not start for another week if a new collective bargaining agreement is reached.

But that would be OK with him, he added.

“I want it to work out for the good of the league,” McCown said.

A new deal actually might hurt the team McCown is leaving. The Cardinals, with about $24 million of cap space, would have about $12 million to $14 million to spend on free agents. With so many teams with current cap problems, the Cards would be among the few teams who could be major players for available talent.

A new deal will get many of the cap-strapped teams off the hook, allowing more teams to battle the Cards for players. In addition, fewer players will be cut for cap reasons, lessening the talent pool.

Then again, a new collective bargaining agreement would seem to benefit someone like McCown, who already is considered one of the better young quarterbacks available.

Speculation has McCown landing with quarterbackchallenged teams like Detroit, New Orleans, Buffalo or Miami. While San Diego’s Drew Brees will be available, he may be too rich for some teams, and McCown makes more sense in other cases. With the Lions, who want to give Joey Harrington another chance, Brees won’t work because he would walk in as a starter.

These are the things McCown will sort through as a free agent.

As soon as he gets a chance to be one.

“It (stinks), to be honest,” McCown said. “You sit here and think, ‘When is it going to happen?’ ”

EXTRA POINTS: The Cardinals resigned fullback Obafemi Ayanbadejo to a two-year contract, securing one of the team’s best special-teams players before he reached free agency.

The Cards also re-signed running back Damien Anderson, defensive end Anton Palepoi and linebacker Isaac Keys to one-year deals. The contracts signed by Anderson and Palepoi are in lieu of tender offers and are expected to be worth less than the $712,000 “low” tender offer the restricted free agents might have received. . . .

Radio station XTRA (910 AM) reported Giants cornerback Will Allen, who will become a free agent, flew into Phoenix late last week to visit with the Cardinals, only to leave once the free agent period was delayed.

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