NFL Free Agency: LBs Will Come At a Premium

Pro Football NYCSenior Writer IFebruary 9, 2010

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 20:  DeMeco Ryans #59 of the Houston Texans is pictured against the Tennessee Titans during the NFL game at LP Field on September 20, 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Texans won 34-31.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Uncapped Rules Will Pose A Challenge For Big Blue

All I'm hearing from fans and pundits these days is "the Giants should get this guy in free agency" kind of stuff.  That's all great, but it appears many do not understand the reality or the rules of free agency in an "uncapped" season.

The threshold for a player to qualify as an unrestricted free-agent (UFA) jumps from four years of service to six. Under these changes, 212 players that would have been UFAs are now RFAs (restricted free agents).

Translation: The pool to get help in free agency is much thinner. The flip side is teams won't lose as many players, either.

According to, of the 10 top-rated free-agent linebackers available come March 5, nine of them are restricted. Translation: teams are going to pay through the nose if they want to sign one of these players.

Only Arizona's Karlos Dansby is unrestricted. He already has been "franchised' twice by the Cardinals and he has expressed a desire to move on. He most likely will, and he'll have plenty of suitors. The Giants among them.

Of the RFAs, you have some solid talent that most likely will be tendered at a high price: a first and third round draft choice. On that list are DeMeco Ryans, Barrett Ruud, Kirk Morrison, Shawne Merriman, D'Qwell Jackson, and Thomas Davis.

It would be costly for the Giants, who loathe parting with high draft picks, to lure one of these away from their current teams. The general consensus is that very few of them will be changing teams.

Ryans is worth the package in my estimation. If they can pry him out of Houston, sign Dansby and draft Rolando McClain, I'll see you in Dallas next February.