The Pulse: Bloody Thursday Looms

Updated: March 2, 2006, 2:34 PM ET
Wednesday, March 1

Welcome to The Pulse, the place to find out what the sports world is thinking. Every day on ESPN.com, SportsNation registers its opinion on a wide range of topics by casting votes and chatting with experts in The Show. We collect the daily highlights and put them in The Pulse.

Story of the Day: NFL Labor Issues
The NFL sits primed for a labor disaster. The fate of the league rests in the hands of NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and Gene Upshaw, president of the NFL Players' Association. If those two can not reach a new collective bargaining agreement by Friday's deadline, the league could be looking at some big changes, both immediately and in the future. By not meeting Friday's deadline, the NFL would be facing the infamous "uncapped" year for 2007. Then the labor bubble would burst as, most experts agree, it would be highly unlikely the players would ever allow the NFL to reinstitute the salary cap.

 Paul Tagliabue
Paul Tagliabue isn't backing down.
However, the players and league would face an even more immediate impact, possibly as soon as Thursday, before the deadline even hits. Without a new CBA in place, there would be no new salary cap number for 2006 and the teams would use the 2005 cap number, with no increase. The deadline for teams to get under the cap is Thursday at 4 p.m. ET. A lot of teams would have to scramble to get under the old cap number, meaning a lot of players, even big-named ones, may be cut on Thursday. This set up for "Bloody Thursday" is outlined by ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli.

While over 50% of SportsNation thinks the NFL is on the verge of a labor disaster, over 40% are not bothered too much by the NFL's labor problems. Just under 14% of The 'Nation are on top of the NFL's labor issues at all times.

Is the NFL on the verge of labor disaster? (48,282 votes)
53.1% - Yes
46.9% - No

Do you usually pay attention to news about the NFL's Collective Bargaining Agreement? (26,221 votes)
44.2% - No, I just watch games.
42.0% - Yes, if a strike is looming
13.8% - Yes, I stay on top of it

Is your favorite NFL team a likely "Bloody Thursday" victim? (27,038 votes)
42.3% - No
30.2% - Yes
25.5% - I don't know

How much do the NFL labor problems bother you? (1,457 votes)
30.3% - A lot
26.8% - Not at all
26.4% - Some
16.4% - Not really

Wondering how "Bloody Thursday" might affect your team? John Clayton breaks down the cap status of the NFL teams. Scouts Inc.'s lists the potential AFC players that might be cut this offseason as well as the NFC.

SportsNation's Show

Allen (NC): Any new news with the CBA? What are they thinking?! Isn't this really going to hurt the players? They could end up playing for less money, only the stars would get the big bucks. They lose their 401k and insurance. It sounds like the players are the one to lose everything. What are the owners going to lose?

Chris Mortensen: Good questions. I don't know if I have all the answers. But the players will only have a tighter money market this year. After this year, there will be plenty of money. Sure, big stars may get more, but there will be plenty to go around, and no salary cap can work for the players. There will be another CBA at some point and that will address benefits. In the uncapped year '07, under this current agreement, owners do not make their annual contribution to most of the benefit funds but the following years will certainly be negotiated with those things in tact. Could there be a strike/lockout in '08? Sure, but a deal will get done at some point. Owners will lose the safety net of cost controls but good management, scouting, coaching will still rule in this league - perhaps more than ever. That may not be a bad thing. It's not a very good league right now in terms of quality of game and the current system is a contributor to that demise.

 Bill Cowher
The Steelers proved it's good management, not money, that wins championships.
Brian (Durham, NC): Do you think the NFL will ever see a cap on rookie contracts, ala the NBA?

Chris Mortensen: Maybe, but there is a rookie pool that controls costs somewhat and still allows for some creativity. I don't know if it will ever reach the stricter NBA model on rookies.

Mike (St. Louis): So 2007 will be uncapped. The cap will then never return or it will be much, much higher than before. How will the small market teams compete?

Chris Mortensen: The same way they competed before - by good management, scouting and coaching. The Pittsburgh Steelers - perhaps the most dominant dynasty ever - were not a big market team. The Florida Marlins won two World Series in MLB. How did that happen? And the revenue sharing will still exist in the NFL with plenty of money coming in.

  • Click here for Mortensen's chat transcript

    Voice of the Fan

    Isn't everyone being a bit of a drama queen about the CBA? What would prevent a new CBA, no matter when it was approved, even, say, a year from now, from overriding the "capless" 2007? I understand it effects planning, but it seems to me there is nothing in this CBA that couldn't be fixed with a new one, as long as they put it together in the next year, or even more so, two years.
    Ephraim R. (Maple Shade, N.J.)

    Do you think Daniel Snyder has George Steinbrenner on the phone right now? If you aren't going to have a salary cap you might as well talk to the expert on how to hand out the most expensive contracts.
    DC (Altoona, Pa.)

     George Steinbrenner
    George Steinbrenner is all for salary caps ... if they are unlimited.
    NFL CBA story is not a big deal. First of all they will reach an agreement. The pie is too big and reason will win out. But even if they don't - what do we ... like? Novelty. If they have an uncapped year, it would be great because it would be different. Even replacement players, if it ever got to that, would be interesting in a car wreck kind of way. Enjoy something new from the No Fun League.
    Moe (Divonne)

    Memo to the NFLPA and Ownership: be careful with the Golden Goose. She's a fragile one and irrepairable.
    Jason (Scarsdale, N.Y.)

    I'm all for the removal of the salary cap and allowing the NFL to use the free market system that most of America uses. Of course, that's pretty much makes me a bolshevik in the sports community.
    tom* (Parkville, Md.)

    It would suck. As a Bear fan, I can attest that any team has a chance of turning their team around in one year due to the cap. If there is a capless year, New York (both teams) Washington, Dallas, and maybe Oakland are the only teams that will fight for the Super Bowl. The smaller market teams will not be able to shell out enough money to sign/keep marquee players. Just up the cap another 10 million or so.
    Pete (N.Y.)

    It's hard to pick sides in this dispute ... billionaires arguing with millionaires.
    Pete (Albany, N.Y.)

    The NFL is the smartest sports league on the planet. Their is no way they play 2007 without a cap.
    John (Portland, ME)

  • Click here for the transcript of Dan Shanoff's Morning Quickie


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