NFL might rescind contract offer

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NEW ORLEANS --- 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 off-season 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 off-seasons, 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.

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.

Six days after that proposal was made, Goodell outlined some of the specifics in an e-mail sent to all active players.

Some players complained about Goodell's letter, saying it was meant to divide them. They also objected to the letter's suggestion that players push their "union to return to the bargaining table" -- the NFLPA renounced its status as a union and says it is now a trade association. That, in turn, permitted players to sue the league in federal court under antitrust laws. A hearing is scheduled for April 6.

In other news, the NFL will move kickoffs up 5 yards to the 35-yard line, keep touchbacks coming out to the 20 and allow the number of players in a blocking wedge to remain at two. Kick coverage players now will be limited to lining up 5 yards or fewer from the spot of the kickoff.

Team owners also voted Tuesday to make all scoring plays reviewable by the replay official and referee.


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