NEW YORK (AP) -- The NFL has swallowed the poison pill.
When the league and the players association reached a new collective bargaining agreement in 2006, a clause called for eliminating the salary cap in 2010. Both sides assumed an uncapped season would be so distasteful that a new contract would be finalized long before the cap disappeared.
Even when the owners opted out of the CBA in 2008, little thought was given to an actual removal of the salary cap that generally has been beneficial for both owners and players.
On Friday, pro football's salary cap dies. Free agency begins under a whole new set of rules, and no one is sure where it will lead - perhaps even to a work stoppage in 2011.
Yes, the most profitable and popular sport in America is entering territory even more uncharted than the end zone was for the St. Louis Rams last season.
"The situation we're walking into is certainly unknown for everyone," Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik says. "So no one can really look at the crystal ball and say here's what people are going to spend and here's what people aren't going to spend. It's all pure speculation."