Thu, Jul 28, 2011 - Page 19 News List

NFL: With lockout over, teams and players brace for frenzy

Reuters, NEW YORK

NFL teams, players and their agents braced for a flurry of fast-paced negotiations and a frenzy of deal-making as clubs returned to business on Tuesday.

Teams can now sign rookies and begin talks with free agents in an abbreviated run-up to the season after a lockout in March had halted all offseason league activities.

The labor deal reached this week between NFL owners and players ended the lockout and will now see teams scrambling to get their rosters set in time for the start of the regular season on Sept. 8.

Players were allowed to report to teams starting Tuesday and one prominent rookie, this year’s first overall draft pick Cam Newton, arrived early to the Carolina Panthers facility eager to make up for lost time.

“I’ve got to get to business,” the quarterback told reporters outside the Panthers’ facility.

Newton is not yet signed, but players will not be putting on pads for contact drills just yet and his agents said they plan to begin contract negotiations soon, according to a report on the NFL’s Web site.

Under the new rookie wage system agreed to in a settlement unanimously approved by player representatives on Monday that put an end to the lockout, Heisman Trophy winner Newton can sign a four-year deal for about US$22.3 million with a US$14.3 million option for the fifth year, the Web site said.

Open season had also started for trades and many prominent names, including quarterbacks, are believed to be available.

The Philadelphia Eagles are believed to be testing the market for Kevin Kolb, who backs up signal caller Michael Vick, and the Arizona Cardinals are considered a potential suitor.

Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton is on the trading block, according to the Denver Post, which cited two league sources for its report on the seven-year veteran.

The Post said Denver head coach John Fox decided to start last year’s first-round draft pick Tim Tebow behind center. The newspaper said the Titans might welcome Orton aboard, while the NFL Network said Minnesota, Arizona and Miami were among teams that could also be interested.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck will likely be a much-coveted free agent by teams with openings at the critical position, while disgruntled Cincinnati quarterback Carson Palmer could be available.

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