Salary cap is bad fit for Thomas NFL REPORT


When the NFL Players Association negotiated a new labor agreement with the owners almost two years ago, defensive back Johnny Thomas was one of the Washington Redskins who voted to reject it.

"I didn't like it from Day 1," he said. "You knew it was going to hurt somebody and I knew it was going to hurt me."

In his sixth season, Thomas is a special teams player who has been signed, waived or put on injured reserve 25 times by four teams.

That's why it wasn't surprising that the Redskins have -- using Thomas' word -- "suggested" he take a pay cut from $300,000 to $200,000.

His agent, Brett Senior, has said Thomas will reject a cut if the Redskins demand it because he thinks another team will pay him $300,000 plus the incentives in his contract, but Thomas sounds as if he won't reject it if push comes to shove.

"My agent should have said we're still negotiating," he said. "The bottom line is they hold the cards. I don't hold the cards."

Redskins general manager Charley Casserly would say only that Thomas is still on the team.

Meanwhile, Thomas is unhappy that the vast majority of NFL players approved the agreement.

"I think the NFLPA came to them with dollar signs, dollar signs and dollar signs," he said. "Players got blinded by the dollar signs and weren't realistic looking at it. A lot of them complaining now should have complained when you had a chance to complain."

It's not only backups who are taking cuts around the league, though.

In Philadelphia, Eagles starting offensive tackle Broderick Thompson walked out for a day Monday to protest the team's demand for a $300,000 cut. He finally settled on a $200,000 cut to $650,000.

Green's gamble

Tight end Eric Green of the Pittsburgh Steelers ended his holdout by gambling he can make more than $2 million a year if he becomes a free agent next year. He turned down a five-year, $10 million deal to sign for one year at $1.4 million.

"I want to be compensated for what I've done, but the Steelers weren't prepared to do that," he said.

Green, though, might not become a free agent because the Steelers again can designate him as their franchise player, as they did last year, if he has another good year.

The Deion Watch

The New Orleans Saints have given Deion Sanders until tomorrow to accept their latest offer or they will pull it off the table.

It reportedly matches the four-year, $17 million deal Reggie White got from the Green Bay Packers a year ago. The offer is prorated so Sanders would receive less if he continues to play baseball.

Sanders met with the Atlanta Falcons yesterday. He has indicated he'll give his former team a chance to match his best offer, but he didn't present the Saints' offer to the club. That may mean he has decided not to take it.

Around the league

Tony Casillas, who refused to report to the Kansas City Chiefs and then returned a $1.2 million signing bonus, said he's now ready to play. Casillas said the Dallas Cowboys didn't tamper with him, and when the league declared him a free agent, he agreed not to try to return to the Cowboys. He said the Redskins are one of the teams he's interested in. . . . The NFL game officials failed to come to an agreement on a new contract with the owners yesterday, but said they'll be on the field for Week 1. The officials, who met with an owners group in New York, have threatened to walk out during the year if their salaries, which range from $1,350 to $2,700 a game, aren't doubled and their pension payments aren't increased by 300 percent. . . . Running back Cleveland Gary, waived this week by the Los Angeles Rams, underwent an emergency appendectomy in Miami on Monday night, eliminating any chances of his playing for the Dallas Cowboys or any other NFL team in the first few weeks of the season. . . . The New England Patriots' Drew Bledsoe ended a one-night stay in the hospital for what coach Bill Parcells called a "tummy ache." Parcells wouldn't let reporters interview Bledsoe or watch practice, but the coach said the second-year quarterback will play Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.

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