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NFL teams, players brace for shopping frenzy with lockout over

By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - National Football League (NFL) teams, players and their agents braced for a flurry of fast-paced negotiations and a frenzy of deal-making as clubs returned to business on Tuesday.

Teams can now sign rookies and begin talks with free agents in an abbreviated run-up to the season after a lockout in March had halted all offseason league activities.

"Chaos. The best word for it is chaos," 16-year NFL veteran fullback Tony Richardson, a member of the NFL Players Association executive committee, told the New York Times.

The labor deal reached this week between NFL owners and players ended the lockout and will now see teams scrambling to get their rosters set in time for the start of the regular season on September 8.

Players were allowed to report to teams starting Tuesday and one prominent rookie, 2011 first overall draft pick Cam Newton, arrived early to the Carolina Panthers facility eager to make up for lost time.

"I've got to get to business," the quarterback told reporters outside the Panthers' facility.

Newton is not yet signed, but players will not be putting on pads for contact drills just yet and his agents said they plan to begin contract negotiations soon, according to a report on the NFL's website.

Under the new rookie wage system agreed to in a settlement unanimously approved by player representatives Monday that put an end to the lockout, Heisman Trophy winner Newton can sign a four-year deal for about $22.3 million with a $14.3 million option for the fifth year, the website said.

Open season had also started for trades, and many prominent names, including quarterbacks, are believed to be available.

The Philadelphia Eagles are believed to be testing the market for Kevin Kolb, who backs up signal caller Michael Vick, and the Arizona Cardinals are considered a potential suitor.

Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton is on the trading block, according to the Denver Post, which cited two league sources for its report on the seven-year veteran.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck will likely be a much-coveted free agent by teams with openings at the critical position, while Cincinnati quarterback Carson Palmer could be available.

Disgruntled Palmer, 31, has decided to retire instead of returning to the under-performing Bengals, Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis told reporters Tuesday.

The Heisman Trophy winner as top U.S. college player in 2003 and the number one overall draft pick, Palmer was scheduled to make $11.5 million in salary for the next two seasons, $13 million in 2013, and $14 million in 2014.

(Editing by Frank Pingue)