NFL, DirecTV extend deal through 2014

A person familiar with the contract, who spoke anonymously because no one has been authorized to reveal the figures, told The Associated Press on Monday the deal was for $1 billion a year for four years, up from an average of $700 million per season in the previous deal.

That's very good news for the NFL during the current dreary economic climate.

"We are pleased to extend a partnership with DirecTV that has complemented and supported our broadcast television packages for 15 years," commissioner Roger Goodell said. "We are looking forward to having the `Red Zone' channel on cable and other media platforms, as well as showing NFL Sunday Ticket via broadband to the homes that cannot get satellite (beginning in 2012)."

Under terms of the deal with the satellite carrier, the "Red Zone" channel that shows live cut-ins from all Sunday afternoon games will be available to cable TV, wireless devices and the Internet.

The broadband portion of the new contract is significant because many areas, particularly apartment buildings or residences surrounded by trees, can't get a satellite signal.

Also extended was DirecTV's agreement to carry NFL Network.

COMPENSATORY PICKS: The Tennessee Titans and Cincinnati Bengals each were awarded four compensatory picks in April's draft for free agents they lost in 2008.

In all, half of the 32 teams received compensatory selections, which are given from the third through seventh rounds of the draft.

Tennessee, which merely had the best record in the NFL last season (13-3), got picks in the fourth (135 overall), fifth (173), sixth (206) and seventh (242) after losing Jacob Bell, Chris Brown, Ben Hartsock, Travis LaBoy, Antwan Odom and Randy Starks.

Cincinnati (4-11-1) was given choices in the third (98th), sixth (209) and seventh (249 and 252). The Bengals lost Landon Johnson, Bryan Robinson, Justin Smith, Alex Stepanovich and Madieu Williams, while signing Odom away from the Titans.

New England, Chicago and Seattle each got three compensatories, with the Patriots receiving the highest such pick, No. 97 overall, in the third round. Getting two spots were Dallas, Jacksonville, San Diego and San Francisco.

One compensatory pick was given to Arizona, Detroit, Indianapolis, Kansas City, the New York Giants, Pittsburgh and Washington.

Since such picks first were awarded in 1994, 491 have been given, with Baltimore (29) receiving the most, and Cleveland (one) the fewest.

NO NAME YET: When the Dallas Cowboys open their $1.1 billion stadium this summer, it might not have a corporate name on it.

Considering the Cowboys' value atop the NFL list and their popularity, selling naming rights would seem an easy chore. Not in this economy, though.

<"We're not naive to what's going on in the country and the economic crisis," Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones said Monday. "We're very respectful of that now. Obviously, there are some factors when you're opening a new building in this economy."

The Cowboys reportedly had AT&T lined up for naming rights last year, but that deal has been put on hold.

While Jones didn't want to paint the situation with a broad brush, he noted that many companies are wary of spending millions of dollars for naming rights, especially if they have been trimming staff and seeking government bailouts.

"Obviously there is some sensitivity out there," he said. "I don't know if that holds for every company."

Commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged that a lack of companies able to purchase stadium naming rights "will have an effect on how our business model is changing."

NFL NETWORK:Commissioner Roger Goodell insisted Monday that the NFL Network is not losing money.

He's also hopeful the league will come to agreements with several cable distributors who have fought placing the network on basic levels. Included among those is Comcast, the nation's largest cable operator, whose deal with the NFL expires April 30.

"We are going to be patient and determined," Goodell said, "and we're going to make sure it gets the broadest possible exposure. We will not do sports tiers; that's not something in the best interest of the NFL. We want to make a deal."

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