- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 27, 2012

PALM BEACH, Fla. — NFL owners ratified the agreement between the league and players’ union that takes away $36 million in salary cap space from the Redskins and $10 million from the Cowboys.

Other than Dallas and Washington, no club voted Tuesday to oppose the agreement, which raised the salary cap for 2012 from about $113 million to $120.6 million. The Cowboys and Redskins have sought arbitration, which will be conducted by University of Pennsylvania professor Stephen Burbank.

Both teams were penalized for overloading contracts in the 2010 uncapped season despite league warnings not to do so. Each must take at least half the reduction this year.

The Cowboys will play in the season opener on Sept. 5 at the Super Bowl champion New York Giants. That game will be on a Wednesday night for the first time; President Barack Obama is scheduled to address the Democratic National Convention on Sept. 6.

The owners also approved competition committee recommendations for points of emphasis in the upcoming season, including blows to the head, horse-collar tackles and taunting.

The owners will vote Wednesday on whether to make horse-collar tackles of quarterbacks in the pocket a penalty.

Payton draws up plan, seeks Parcells as coach

PALM BEACH, FLA. — Sean Payton has planned the New Orleans Saints’ offseason program, done some work on the upcoming draft and jotted down ideas for the start of training camp.

And now, with his season-long suspension set to begin Sunday, Payton is checking to see if mentor Bill Parcells would run the team while he serves his penalty for allowing a Saints assistant coach and players to run a bounty system.

Speaking publicly for the first time since the Saints were sanctioned for trying to take out specific opponents, Payton said Tuesday he will soon decide whether to appeal his suspension, something Commissioner Roger Goodell has said he can do through Monday.

General manager Mickey Loomis was suspended for eight-games, and defensive assistant Joe Vitt must sit out six games.

As many as 27 players could also face sanctioning for their role in the bounty scandal.

Around the league

LIONS: Detroit agreed to a one-year deal with running back Kevin Smith. The Lions signed Smith last season while running back Jahvid Best was out with a concussion and after rookie Mikel Leshoure tore his left Achilles tendon. Smith ran for140 yards and scored three touchdowns, both career highs, in a November win over Carolina.

FALCONS: Atlanta and veteran center Todd McClure agreed to terms on a one-year contract. McClure, who will return for his 14th season with the Falcons, saw his franchise-best streak of 144 starts end when a knee injury forced him to miss last year’s season-opening loss at Chicago. He returned to start the 14 of the next 15 games.

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