What's a Deadline?

With what is becoming his standard deer-in-the-headlights look, NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue spent more time pushing back the deadline for teams getting in compliance with the 2006 salary cap than apparently was spent negotiating with the players association.

You knew there were going to be problems with the NFL getting all of its teams under the salary cap. It was so bad, in fact, that terms like "Bloody Thursday" were thrown around and, after getting several major cuts of veteran players, Commissioner Paul Tagliabue avoided "Bloody Sunday" by doing the same.

Free agency was supposed to begin at 11:01 p.m. Central on Thursday, but, in hopes of getting a deal done in the 11th hour, that was pushed back to 11:01 p.m. Sunday. But, in what may be best described simply as a face-saving move, the time for teams to get into compliance with the cap was pushed back twice Sunday -- first by four hours and then again for another hour-and-a-half. In the the end, with teams still struggling to make the hard cuts or restructure contracts to keep players, the teams bought another three days.

With free agency just hours away Sunday night, the league announced yet another stay of execution for those teams that weren't in good cap position -- meaning they have even more time to get their own house in order and make hard decisions. As it stands now, free agency will begin at 11:01 p.m. Central Wednesday night...at least that's the current plan.

* The delays in getting free agency started gave the Seahawks enough time to work out a deal with RB Shaun Alexander, taking him off the free agent market. Alexander, who had been asking for a signing bonus of $18 million, settled for an eight-year, $62 million deal that includes $15 million in guaranteed money in the first year -- including signing bonuses, roster bonuses and salary.
* The Packers took advantage of the extension to sign RB Ahman Green to a one-year deal loaded with incentives to keep him off the open market.
* Edgerrin James may also be a late signee, since the league approved a restructuring of the contracts of Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison -- two players whose deals barely have the ink dry on the contracts -- to create an additional $12.5 million in cap room. While they may have to use that to re-sign several of their young defensive players, they have the ability to sign James now if they choose to.
* Jets QB Chad Pennington slashed millions off of his contract to remain with the team -- dropping his cap number from $15 million to $9 million and, if he doesn't reach incentives laden in the re-worked contract, his final number could be as low as $3 million.
* In one of the stranger moves Sunday, the Redskins got paid $4 million in pro-rated signing bonus money by LaVar Arrington in exchange for his freedom. Following the move, Arrington was put on waivers and, once he clears, he could be open to sign with anyone before free agency officially begins.
* Among the biggest names cut Sunday were WR Isaac Bruce, QB Kerry Collins and eight-time Pro Bowl center Kevin Mawae.

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