The 7 Free Agents Most Affected by the NFL Lockout

Thomas ConroyCorrespondent IJuly 12, 2011

The 7 Free Agents Most Affected by the NFL Lockout

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    ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is 7-10 days away from being finalized and all unsigned players with four or more years of service could be declared unrestricted free agents.

    Due to the length of the lockout, more NFL teams are becoming more reluctant to spend money on free agents because of the lack of training camp to integrate them before the start of the regular season. Publicly, all involved will say business as usual once the CBA is agreed upon.

    Here are seven free agents most affected by the NFL Lockout:

Cedric Benson

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    QB Carson Palmer isn’t returning to the Cincinnati Bengals, and rookie QB Andy Dalton will eventually assume the starting position. But for right now, he will need time to acclimate to the league.

    This will work to RB Cedric Benson’s advantage, as the Brown Family will throw a boatload of money to retain his services. You can expect the Bengals to focus solely on running the football next season.  

Doug Free

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    Quietly, Doug Free has become a major commodity on the free agent market, as the Dallas Cowboys will have to increase their original contract offer to retain him.

    The coaching staff wants to move him back to right tackle and bookend him with first-round draft choice Tyron Smith, and that should significantly improve the protection for QB Tony Romo next season. The Cowboys have always valued the tackle position higher than any other spot on the offensive line. 

Tiki Barber

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    For the last month, all we have heard is that the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was a top of RB Tiki Barber’s short list to gain his services. No denying that he keeps himself in terrific shape during his retirement, but is Barber in NFL-game ready shape. No team can afford giving up precious training camp time to allow his body to get used to being hit once again. 

Donovan McNabb

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    Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan doesn’t want QB Donovan McNabb back on his roster. But unfortunately, the Redskins front office is resigned to stay status quo at the quarterback position, and align themselves for an opportunity to draft QB Matt Barkley from Southern Cal in next year’s draft.

    Their fans were hoping that passing on a QB in the draft meant The Redskins were adopting a “win-now” mentality. But, the length of the lockout has guarantee any new veteran QB brought in wouldn’t be ready to start the season. 

Brett Favre

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    At the end of last season, Brett Favre declared that he was done playing in the NFL. But, we heard him say that before, and then Gil Brandt added fuel to the fire. He mentioned on that Favre could return to the league at some point this upcoming season. Right now, too many quality QBs are available that have less drama and mileage to be bypass, but come December, all bets are off. Be prepared for Favre Watch.

Melvin Bullitt

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    Once free agency begins, you get the feeling that Indianapolis Colts S Melvin Bullitt will attract a lot of attention on the open market. He wants to return, but it’s highly unlikely with the pending contract negotiations with DE Robert Mathis and WR Reggie Wayne. Several teams are going to open up their checkbooks to get a definite upgrade at the safety position. 

Eric Smith

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    Eric Smith is a little-known DB who played the last four seasons with the New York Jets. His free agent status is unknown until the new CBA is signed. Ideally, he should be cashing in on his free agency. But, if the new CBA rules Smith a restricted free agent, then interested teams might think twice on giving up compensation for unknown quantity on the field.