Packers notebook: Salary cap in peril

Owners are likely to opt out of labor deal this week; team president Mark Murphy hints at training camp attractions.

NFL owners could opt of the labor agreement with the players union during the upcoming league meetings, which start Tuesday in Atlanta.

If that happens — which is a near-certainty, given 24 of the 32 teams would have to vote against it — the 2010 season could be uncapped, barring a new labor agreement.

"If they don't do it next week then it will be soon after that," Gene Upshaw, the executive director of the NFL Players Association, told The Associated Press on Friday. "They want to opt out and we don't."

Upshaw has said that if the salary cap disappears, he'll work to make sure it never returns.

No salary cap would be bad news in the long run for the small-market Packers, even though they rank in the top one-third of the league in revenue. With new stadiums opening, the Packers' lofty financial standing won't last forever.

"There are a lot of new stadiums coming on board, and we have to be poised to react to those to maximize our revenue streams," Packers president Mark Murphy said at the Wisconsin Associated Press Editors Association meeting at Lambeau Field on Thursday.

One safeguard for teams like the Packers, however, is an agreement that if the salary cap disappears, players wouldn't be allowed to become unrestricted free agents until after their sixth season. The current number is four.

The labor deal was signed in March 2006, and gave both sides the ability to opt out of it by Nov. 8, 2008. The contract is set to expire at the end of the 2013 season. If the owners opt out, the deal would end after the 2011 season.

The new agreement gave the players a 60 percent share of revenue. That's especially impacted low- and medium-income teams. What's more, worsening economic conditions and rising bond rates have made construction and renovation projects more expensive, impacting even the richest of franchises.

"We made it clear that we are willing to discuss their financial condition, but we cannot expect our players to embrace the NFL's position without the owners providing audited financial statements," Upshaw said in a statement on the NFLPA's Web site.

All of the saber rattling, and the threat to owners of losing the salary cap and the players of losing free-agent years — along with the elimination of the orderly selection of college players in the draft — are all meant to bring the two sides to the negotiating table to reach a compromise.

More Murphy

Murphy said the Packers are working to maximize fan entertainment — and revenue opportunities — at training camp.

Without elaborating, Murphy said the Packers want to add more attractions to training camp. An announcement may be made soon, he said, and the team is planning to hire a vice president for marketing and sales.

"As a player, I never looked forward to training camp," Murphy said. "But now, I'm really looking forward to training camp. We're looking at some things we can do to enhance that experience."

Favre returns … for Hall of Fame

Brett Favre is coming back to Green Bay, but at least for now, he won't be putting on his famous No. 4 jersey and whizzing passes to awestruck rookie receivers.

A week before his former teammates report for the start of training camp, Favre will be at Lambeau Field on July 19 to present Frank Winters for induction into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame. Winters was Favre's trusted center and one of the quarterback's off-the-field buddies.

Nose tackle Gilbert Brown, a teammate of Favre and Winters, also will be enshrined. He will be presented by onetime teammate Santana Dotson.

Hall of Fame quarterback Bart Starr will be a presenter as well, for longtime team video director Al Treml.

Not camping buddies

Although the St. Louis Rams are relocating their training camp to the Milwaukee suburb of Mequon, they won't be a practice partner for the Packers this summer. The Rams previously arranged joint workouts with the Tennessee Titans.

The Rams will become the third NFL team to have training camp in Wisconsin. The Kansas City Chiefs have been in River Falls for several years.

The Sports Xchange contributed to this story.


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