An Uncapped Year: How It Affects the Green Bay Packers

Jason PotvinContributor IDecember 7, 2009

TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 01:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (L) present Dan Rooney, team owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, with the Vince Lombardi trophy after the Steelers won 27-23 against the Arizona Cardinals during Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

With the March 31 deadline approaching and no imminent effort from Roger Goodell to extend or create a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, it looks like 2010 will be the first uncapped year for the NFL in 16 years.

Similar to Major League Baseball, teams will have no salary cap to restrict how much money is spent on their 51-man roster. 

Obviously, owners like Jerry Jones and Daniel Snyder couldn't be more excited with an uncapped year.

Unfortunately, the smaller-market teams that aren't owned by billionaires don't want to see the NFL turn into the MLB, where rich teams can buy up all the talent by outbidding every smaller market team.

With an uncapped year, highly-sought-after free agents are likely to receive more money than they would ever be offered in a year with a salary cap.

At the end of the 2009 football season, the following 15 important Green Bay players would become free agents. 

  • Chad Clifton
  • Mark Tausher
  • Aaron Kampman
  • Brandon Chillar
  • Ryan Pickett
  • Ahman Green
  • Jason Spitz
  • Daryn Colledge
  • Nick Collins
  • Atari Bigby
  • John Kuhn
  • Will Blackmon
  • Derrick Martin
  • Johnny Jolly
  • Tramon Williams

With the offseason leading into an uncapped year, only players who have played at least six seasons (including IR) are eligible to become unrestricted free agents.

These unrestricted free agents—Chad Clifton, Mark Tausher, Aaron Kampman, Brandon Chillar, Ryan Pickett, and Ahman Green—can choose to sign with any team.

The other nine Green Bay Packers —namely Nick Collins, Tramon Williams and Johnny Jolly—become restricted free agents.

If no team offers a contract to these players, they play for Green Bay another year with a 30-percent increase in their yearly salary (based off of 2009).

However, if a team tries to sign a restricted free agent, Green Bay is able to match any offer.

Depending on the level of the qualifying offer, Green Bay would receive compensation if they decided not to match another team's offer.

This season, Green Bay has $15.868 million of cap space that can be used to extend or renew contracts for its players.

Unlike years before, this year's cap space will not roll over into the next year.

It's absolutely necessary for the Packers organization to utilize the rest of their cap space in order to eliminate being outbid by other teams in free agency.

I believe that these are the most important players who need to be retained (in the following order).

  • Nick Collins
  • Tramon Williams
  • Johnny Jolly
  • Brandon Chillar
  • Ryan Pickett

Though it is unlikely the $16 million cap space will accommodate all five players, the uncapped year allows Green Bay to use one franchise tag AND one transition tag.

With Aaron Kampman coming off knee surgery, teams will still consider him a top free agent.

Green Bay could end up tagging and trading him, but is likely to receive less than a first round pick due to the injury.

Another rule that the uncapped season commands is that the eight teams that reach the divisional playoffs are restricted to how many free agents they can sign the following offseason.

This puts a much larger emphasis on successful drafting than acquiring free agents every year.

With Ted Thompson's track record of successful draft picks, I think its safe to assume that Green Bay will still be a contender in the near future, regardless of how frugal he may be in free agency.