Shop Fantasy Central Golf Guide Email Travel Subscribe SI About Us NFL Football Fantasy More Football Leagues

  pro football
depth charts
baseball S
col. football S
pro basketball S
m. college bb S
w. college bb S
hockey S
golf plus S
tennis S
soccer S
motor sports
olympic sports
women's sports
more sports

 Sportsman of the Year
 Heisman Trophy
 Swimsuit 2001

 Fantasy Central
 Inside Game
 Video Plus
 Your Turn
 Message Boards
 Email Newsletters
 Golf Guide
 Cities GROUP
 Sports Illustrated
 Life of Reilly
 SI Women
 SI for Kids
 Press Room
 TBS/TNT Sports
 CNN Languages

 SI Customer Service
 SI Media Kits
 Get into College
 Sports Memorabilia

End of the line?

Cowboys, Aikman may be running out of time

Click here for more on this story
Posted: Wednesday March 07, 2001 2:13 PM

  Troy Aikman Dallas QB Troy Aikman believes he still has the skills to be successful. Brian Bahr/Allsport

IRVING, Texas (AP) -- The Dallas Cowboys may be running out of time to decide what to do with Troy Aikman.

Aikman's contract calls for the team to pay the quarterback a $7 million bonus and extend his contract through 2007 if he's on the roster Thursday.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and agent Leigh Steinberg have talked about delaying that date to June 1, but to do so they need permission from the NFL's management council. Carl Francis of the NFL Players Association said Wednesday he had yet to see any such request.

"We will be notified when an extension has been applied for," Francis said. "To my knowledge, that hasn't happened."

Whenever the deadline, the options remain the same: Jones could keep Aikman or cut him, or the quarterback could retire.

Jones and Steinberg, who did not return calls seeking comment, are eying the June date because of its ramifications on the salary cap. Players who are released or who retire before then count fully against the upcoming season's salary cap, while the cap hit can be spread over 2001 and 2002 if the player goes off the roster after that date.

If a delay is granted, it would be to allow Aikman, 34, more time to investigate the health risks of continuing his career. He's had at least 10 concussions in 12 seasons plus nagging back pain.

Gene Upshaw, executive director of the NFLPA, said last week the league gave Steve Young, another Steinberg client, several delays while he was facing a similar decision last year.

Young ended up retiring, freeing the San Francisco 49ers from a $1 million roster bonus. The team ended up paying him anyway.

Aikman has said he'd like to keep playing because he still enjoys the game and still thinks he has the skills to be successful.

As for the health risks, tests done before last season showed no longterm damage from his previous concussions.

From the Cowboys' perspective, the money he's owed is only part of the problem. It would be quite a gamble to build around a quarterback who could be one hit from never playing again.

But Jones has been extremely loyal to the players who helped Dallas win three Super Bowls in the 1990s. There's added sentiment in Jones' attachment to Aikman because he was the first player Jones ever drafted.

Dallas has begun looking at other options. Former Baltimore quarterback Tony Banks, who played for Cowboys offensive coordinator Jack Reilly when both were in St. Louis, spent Tuesday visiting with Jones and other team officials.

Related information
Cowboys about to ride off as a team in ruins
Dallas has decision to make on franchise QB
Visit Multimedia Central for the latest audio and video
Search our site Watch CNN/SI 24 hours a day
Sports Illustrated and CNN have combined to form a 24 hour sports news and information channel. To receive CNN/SI at your home call your cable operator or DirecTV.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

CNNSI Copyright © 2001
CNN/Sports Illustrated
An AOL Time Warner Company.
All Rights Reserved.

Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.