At midnight tonight, the free agency period begins and the deadline to implement a new salary cap for the 2010 season expires. Without a salary cap teams are not limited in the amount of money they can spend on players.
It also means there is no floor, or minimum team salary requirements. That figure, which now stands at $107 million, no longer has to be spent on players. Some teams, especially smaller market ones, may opt to keep salaries as low as feasibly possible.
Teams that played in the Divisional Playoff round last season will basically be sidelined in free agency. The final four (New Orleans, Indianapolis, New York Jets and Minnesota) cannot sign any unrestricted free agents unless they lose one first.
The other four teams (Baltimore, Arizona, Dallas and San Diego) are limited as well. They “only will be permitted to sign one unrestricted free agent for $5.5 million (estimated) or more in year one of the contract, plus the number of their UFAs who sign with another team. They also can sign any unrestricted free agents for less than $3.7 (estimated) million in year one of the contract with limitations on the per year increases….”
The unrestricted free agent pool is now 212 players less than it would have been in normal times.
The pickings are slim.
Since UFAs are required to have six years of service, most of them are 30 years old or close to it. Many believe the there are only a few players worth bidding on, and the price for those players will be not worth the risk.
Teams will be reluctant to pry restricted free agents away from their current employers because of the high compensation tied to their tender offers. With a deep draft coming up, teams will want to stockpile picks rather than forfeit them.
In the NFL, trades are not as common as they are in other major sports. This offseason, that is bound to change. Teams that covet RFAs from other teams may offer some of their own RFAs in return to avoid surrendering draft choices.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out…
The Washington Redskins are ready to roll the dice. The NFL’s most valuable franchise will throw their hat into the ring for every UFA they feel can help them.
The Miami Dolphins will drive hard to the hoop on Cardinal LB Karlos Dansby, as will the Giants. Money will be the primary factor, but location and direction of the franchise will also be considered.
Julius Peppers, the celebrated Carolina DE, may turn out to be too expensive for the Chicago Bears. It has been revealed that they may have tampered with Peppers at the combine this week. If they drop out, the Eagles and the Giants may try to play a game of one upmanship for Peppers’ services.
Many teams will not match offer sheets on their RFAs, opting to receive compensation for the lost players instead.