When the NFL adopted the free agency system as we know it back in 1993, it was to allow players to move about the league, thus allowing all teams to become competitively equal. This was supposed to be the end of the dynasties that the league once had, with the best players in the league on only a few teams.
When looking at the league over the past 15 seasons, has anything really changed?
Sure, player salaries have gone through the roof, and ticket prices have soared, but what has really changed?
When players are on the free agent market, there are basically two factors in what teams are going to acquire their services: contracts and championships. We still see top players stocked on a few teams, and the remaining teams have the rest.
Of course there are still some quality players scattered through out the league, but are teams really equal?
Now the 2008-2009 season has brought a surprise to the front, which no one would have predicted realistically before the season started, but the question still remains, is there really parity in the league?
Super Bowl XLIII is a classic David versus Goliath story, with the Arizona Cardinals—perennial losers—taking on the Pittsburgh Steelers. In my opinion, this game is semi-proof that dynasties still exist in the NFL, as the Steelers are making their second visit in four years.
Dallas controlled the league from 1993-1996, the New England Patriots dominated the NFL from 2001-2005, and the Steelers are heading towards their own dynasty with their dominant play and players.
We've seen teams win back-to-back championships, and certain teams compete at a high level year-in and year-out over the past decade while some teams remain at the bottom year-in and year-out.
When players are given the options of signing with a championship- caliber team or a losing team trying to rebuild, most players are going to sign for a chance at winning it all.
It's the same problem every professional sport faces, and there doesn't seem to be a answer for it in any league. The common problems each face are increasing salaries and ticket prices.
The Detroit Lions, coming off the worst season in NFL history with a 0-16 record, face a huge challenge in becoming competitive again—most players won't want to come to a franchise in such disrepair.
They have the top pick in the draft which brings a hefty price tag with it. Without turning the corner, they can ruin a young player's confidence, extinguish his passion for the game, and essentially lose millions of dollars on a player that isn't worth the money.
There doesn't seem to be a solution to making each team competitive on a equal level, but one thing remains the same about free agency—the dynasties will always remain, the salaries will continue to rise, and fans will keep having to shell out more money to watch.