NFL: Goodell said owner’s offer could be pulled back
NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Owners haven’t talked about using replacement players if the NFL’s first work stoppage since 1987 stretches on, Commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday, and the league might not keep its last contract offer on the table if bargaining doesn’t resume soon.
“We have not had any discussions or consideration of replacement players,” Goodell said at a news conference closing the annual owners meetings. “It hasn’t been discussed, it hasn’t been considered, and it’s not in our plans.”
He also said the Miami Dolphins and four other teams have been fined or been told the NFL is investigating them for violating offseason rules prohibiting contact with players. Goodell was asked specifically about the Dolphins; he did not reveal other teams involved.
NFL general counsel Jeff Pash said the violations aren’t related to the league’s lockout of players, which began March 12, hours after negotiations with the players broke off, and the union dissolved. Even during normal offseasons, from the end of one season until around March 15, NFL rules bar teams from holding organized workouts, practice or meetings, and don’t allow position coaches to supervise players.
“It’s a ‘go home and relax’ period,” Pash said.
Since the lockout began, no contact between the league’s 32 clubs and players has been allowed. Players don’t get paid and can’t negotiate new contracts; they aren’t allowed to use team facilities.
Goodell said he hasn’t spoken to NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith since March 11, when talks ended after 16 days of federal mediation.
Owners made a proposal that day that included an increase in their 2011 salary cap offer from $131 million to $141 million; the players had been seeking a $151 million cap for that year, plus a chance to earn a percentage of any higher-than-projected revenues above a certain threshold.
“Every day that goes by,” Goodell said, “makes it harder and harder to keep the elements in that proposal.”