published Friday, March 4th, 2011

NFL, players agree to 7-day CBA extension

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    NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, center, accompanied by Kansas City Chiefs guard Brian Waters, left, and NFLPA spokesman George Atallah walk to football labor negotiations with the NFL involving a federal mediator, Friday, March 4, 2011, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

BARRY WILNER, AP Pro Football Writer

WASHINGTON — That reprieve in NFL labor negotiations will last another week.

The league and the players' union agreed Friday on a seven-day extension of the collective bargaining agreement. The CBA was set to run out on Thursday before a 24-hour extension was granted.

Federal mediator George Cohen announced the new agreement. Talks will resume Monday.

"We are continuing to work hard, to identify solutions," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. "We believe that, as I've said many times before, that this will be solved through negotiations and that's what we're focused on."

"We'll continue to work hard, and we'll be back next week."

NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith also planned to speak to the media.

Both sides met for the 11th day with Cohen before settling on a plan to keep talking. If the CBA expires the owners could lock out the players, and the union could decertify to try and prevent that through the courts — something the NFLPA did in 1989.

"Talking is better than litigating," Goodell said.

For the moment, it at least staves off the NFL's first work stoppage since the 1987 players' strike. It certainly indicates neither the owners nor the players are ready to make a bold move to shut down a league that rakes in $9 billion a year.

But the extension doesn't mean the sides have gotten close on the key issues:

— How to divide the league's revenues, including what cut team owners should get up front to help cover certain costs, such as stadium construction. Under the old deal, owners received about $1 billion off the top. They entered these negotiations seeking to add another $1 billion to that.

— A rookie wage scale, and how much of the money saved by the owners under such a system would go to veteran players.

— The owners' push to expand the regular season from 16 games to 18 while reducing the preseason by two games. The players oppose that idea, citing health factors, especially the number of injuries already sustained during a 16-game regular season.

— Benefits for retired players.

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