With free agency three days away, NFL teams continued their ef
Undated (AP) _ With free agency three days away, NFL teams continued their efforts Friday to sign coveted players who could otherwise become free to sell themselves around the league.
The Denver Broncos, for example, reached agreement with nose tackle Greg Kragen on a two-year $2.3 million contract that includes a $300,000 signing bonus. And the Indianapolis Colts were close to re-signing two starters who could have become free, guard Randy Dixon and wide receiver Jessie Hester along with defensive end Skip McClendon.
The most liberal free agency will officially take effect on Monday, when about 350 players will be unrestricted free agents.
Judge David Doty on Friday gave preliminary approval to the out-of-court settlement that opens the way for NFL free agency.
Doty, who presided over the lawsuits that led to the NFL labor settlement, said the agreement settles the cases pending in federal and state courts, including the class-action suit filed by Reggie White of the Philadelphia Eagles. Doty gave all sides until April 2 to file objections.
Doty presided at the trial last summer at which a jury threw out the league’s limited free agent plan and cleared the way for the current agreement.
This class of free agents is headed by White, who can’t be prevented from leaving because he was a plaintiff in one of the lawuits that led to free agency. It also includes a half-dozen or more quarterbacks who might help the chances of teams like Kansas City or Minnesota, who believe they’re a quarterback away from a Super Bowl.
White was actually declared a ″franchise player″ by the Eagles, so that the team can receive a draft choice from a special pool if he goes elsewhere. The same pertains to Tim McDonald, Phoenix’ Pro Bowl safety.
Another big-name player was added to the pool when Green Bay said it would not offer a contract to tackle Tony Mandarich, the second player chosen overall in the 1989 draft. Mandarich, who did not play last season because of injury and illness and would not have been eligible for free agency because he had been in the league only four years, is earning $4.4 million over that time.
″There has been an inordinate amount of pressure on this young man ever since he was drafted by the Packers in 1989,″ general manager Ron Wolf said. ″It is our feeling that it is in Tony’s best interest to attempt a fresh start in professional football somewhere else,″
As for the Colts, general manager Jim Irsay said ″by the weekend we should have between three and six players done.′
″We’ve tried to get them all signed, but obviously that’s not going to happen,″ he said.