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Road Block To Free Agent Reporting? NFL Commissioner's Power Still Debated

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According to Pittsburgh Steelers player representative Ryan Clark, via Ed Bouchette, the signing of the CBA scheduled for tomorrow is still not a sure thing. Clark indicates that the sides are still bargaining over one last piece of real estate: Roger Goodell's sweeping player discipline authority. The fallout is that without a signed CBA, free agents are not allowed to report to their teams tomorrow, as the entire sports world has been awaiting. Ugh, why do I always get the gloom and doom beat? Hopefully this is just last minute posturing, a leak to the media as a last ditch effort to get the NFL side to relent.

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Clark says major holdup w deal is Roger Goodell's disciplinary power

It has widely been stated that the lasting repercussion of the summer long lockout is that the relationship between the players and the commissioner has been irreparably damaged. Owners and players obviously have different views on the driving force behind league success, but nothing really changed there. The commissioner has been viewed negatively as being on the owner's side, when he is supposed to represent the best interest of the league in its entirety.

Player discipline had been the catalyst behind the bubbling bad blood between the players and the commish. Sheriff Goodell took over the reigns when the NFL was facing it's most serious image issue; players consistently running afoul of the law. Some argued that the percentage of players in trouble paled in comparison to that of the general public. Goodell wanted the NFL to be held to a higher standard, and over the course of his tenure he has imposed increasingly strict penalties as a deterrent.

A delay in CBA signing wouldn't halt the league year, but it would prevent all players under new contracts (outside of rookies) from reporting to their ball clubs. For the Cowboys, this would keep Marcus Spears, Kenyon Coleman and Jason Hatcher from being a part of the defensive line schemes Rob Ryan is implementing. Doug Free and Kyle Kosier would still be out, keeping the new look offensive line from finally working together. Of course, every team implementing new pieces would share the same fate. Teams that are trying to incorporate numerous new faces, such as the Eagles, might be in a tougher boat.

Fans can expect to see another round of cuts in short order, as teams have to be below the salary cap at the time of the CBA signing.