Broncos owner talks up Shanahan to Snyder

NFL executives spotted and overheard Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder and Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen at last week's NFL labor seminar in Dallas engaged in a good solid 10 minutes of Mike-Shanahan-friendly conversation. Snyder was grilling Bowlen on Shanahan's attributes, and if there were any questions in the mind of the Redskins owner, Bowlen cleared them up. He gave Shanahan a ringing endorsement, which doesn't bode well for the future of Redskins head coach Jim Zorn. Snyder already knew much of this himself. He has known Shanahan since the two stayed at the same hotel for the Pro Bowl in the 1990s. The men went to dinner together, stayed in touch and have talked throughout recent years on a fairly regular basis.

Seahawks searching for young candidates

The Seattle Seahawks made it official Saturday night, when they announced Mike Holmgren would not wind up back in Seattle with his former organization, as many around the league expected. The search firm leading the Seahawks' search for a new general manager has told candidates all along that it is looking for a younger person to grow with the franchise. The search firm has identified eight candidates and is expected to start interviewing them at the end of the month. Three of the candidates are thought to be Arizona Cardinals director of player personnel Steve Keim, Philadelphia Eagles general manager Tom Heckert and San Diego Chargers director of player personnel Jimmy Raye.

Garrett's contract influencing Cowboys

One of the quietest and biggest factors influencing what the Dallas Cowboys' coaching staff will look like next season is offensive coordinator Jason Garrett's contract. After this season, Garrett will have two years and $7 million remaining on the richest coordinator contract in the league. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones does not want to have to eat the contract. So short of a historic collapse in the final three games, Garrett is likely to return next season, even if head coach Wade Phillips doesn't. The contract is too prohibitive for another course of action.

A glimpse of the uncapped NFL

Few realize it, but football's new form of free agency is going to look a lot like basketball's. If it goes to the uncapped year that everyone is expecting in 2010, then any team that advances to the NFL's divisional playoffs this season will be prohibited from signing any free agents unless they lose one. And if they lose one, then they will only be allowed to sign one of commensurate value.

What this is, essentially, is the NFL's version of the NBA's midlevel exception. The NFL also put an additional poison pill in the collective bargaining agreement that would prevent non-playoff teams from signing free agents and then trading them to a team that advanced to the divisional playoffs that season. This means if a team doesn't go to the Super Bowl, it might be far better off losing in the wild-card round than in the divisional playoffs; in this case, it would be able to reap the full benefits of free agency. Otherwise, with a trip to the final eight, it won't. The NFL also told teams that the same system for signing rookies will be in place in 2010, even if there is no salary cap. There will be a rookie pool and each team will be allocated a certain amount of money with which to sign its rookies. Numerous topics were addressed at last week's NFL labor seminar in Dallas, but none any more important than what an uncapped 2010 might look like.