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Waiting by the Window

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We're now in the one week can-we-re-sign-them phase of free agency, where teams struggle to hammer out long-term deals with players willing to stay.

This puts Dallas in the position of the eager kid with money in his pocket, his face pressed to the window waiting for the candy store to open. The Cowboys have some free agent treats in mind, but don't know if they'll be rudely snatched away at the last minute by new long-term contracts with the home team.

Adam Vinateiri is one example. The Boston Herald reports that the Patriots and Vinatieri are talking about a long-term deal and many officials interviewed at the combine expect Vinatieri to stay with New England. One, however, feels that Dallas may be a player for him, saying, I wouldn't want to even give Parcells a chance at Vinatieri". Parcells signed Vinatieri during his New England stay.

In other possible Cowboys' related news:

-- The Eagles will let OT Jon Runyan test the market, but have not given up on getting him back. Runyan told a Philadelphia paper he had not heard from the Eagles and speculates that they would need to find a new RT if they let him go. That doesn't express much confidence in his linemates.

-- The Eagles are apparently emerging as players in the Antwaan Randle El sweepstakes.

-- NFLPA head Gene Upshaw told agents yesterday to prepare for an uncapped season in 2007, suggesting a new CBA will not be reached soon. The truth depends on whom you canvass; Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt said earlier this week that he didn't feel a new deal was far off and that the revenue sharing between the owners was a bigger issue to be settled than any disagreements with the players. SI's Paul Zimmerman, an avowed union supporter, claims Upshaw is a poor leader and is too chummy with commissioner Paul Tagliabue. Zimmerman suspects this is all being done for PR reasons and that a deal could "miraculously" be patched together, making Upshaw and Tagliabue look like heroes, when a crisis could have been averted long ago.

If Upshaw is on the level and we see an uncapped 2007 the Redskins are in deep trouble. CBS Sportsline's Pete Prisco and ESPN's Len Pasquarelli both quote cap experts from other NFL teams (they may be quoting the same guy, since their sources are anonymous) that Washington's cap situation is dire and only a new CBA can save them from radical salary surgery.

According to Pasquarelli (subscription required),

... the Redskins cannot get into compliance with the projected spending ceiling for next season without an extension to the collective bargaining agreement.

The expert claims there are only two players on the current Washington roster who will bring the team significant cap relief if they are released. Cutting some of the team's big-name players would actually increase the cap impact in most cases... According to the cap expert's analysis, the Redskins might have to play with as many as 15-20 rookies, all earning the minimum salary, to squeeze close to the cap.

But you can be sure that several preseason magazines and some "experts" (cough)Joe Theisman(cough) will proclaim Washington a Super Bowl front runner.

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