NFL owners work on testy NFLPA contract extension

Updated: August 11, 2005, 1:47 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

CHICAGO -- NFL owners are inching closer to an extension of the league's contract with its players union, an agreement that could include new features aimed at broadening the pool from which the players get their money.

The owners met Wednesday, the latest in a series of meetings aimed at reaching a consensus among themselves on revenue sharing.

These have been the testiest extension talks since the agreement with the NFL Players Association was first signed in 1993. The contract expires after the 2008 season, but both sides have expressed a sense of urgency because if there is no extension to the collective bargaining agreement, 2007 would not have a salary cap.

"Bottom line, we told the clubs today that we are making progress," said league spokesman Joe Browne, one of commissioner Paul Tagliabue's top advisers.

ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli reported that owners also approved, by a 28-4 vote, retaining the practice squad for the 2005 season. Each team will be permitted to have up to eight practice squad players. There had been some speculation that, as leverage with the NFL Players Association, owners would consider eliminating the practice squad entirely. That would have meant a potential loss of 256 jobs.

Two weeks ago, Pittsburgh owner Dan Rooney predicted it was likely an agreement would be done by early fall, perhaps in October. Rooney has been deeply involved in the NFL's labor issues for three decades.

In another move, the owners voted to reopen bidding for the 2010 Super Bowl. It had been awarded to New York on the contingency that there would be a new stadium built for the Jets in Manhattan.

However, the stadium project was put on hold after state legislators turned down a financing plan.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.