View Full Version : CBA=Uncapped 2010 in the NFL Could Hurt Teams and Players

01-13-2010, 08:21 PM
Copied from another thread.. thought this would be a good reference to keep around..

An Uncapped 2010 in the NFL Could Hurt Teams and Players

Will 2010 be uncapped?

The NFL and NFLPA and ownwer have made little progress with the CBA; with the current league year now half over, it appears quite likely that 2010 will be an uncapped year.

(Before I continue, let me note that there is zero chance of a lockout or strike in 2010, which is the final year of the CBA. The CBA specifically mandates that the final year be uncapped, and also forbids both strikes and lockouts while it remains in force. A strike or lockout in 2011, however, is quite possible if no new CBA is signed by then, as Peter King recently warned.)

While many in the NFL, and in the public, see the expiration of the salary cap as a good thing, it may not be nearly as beneficial as it might appear at first glance.


For teams, there is one major downside, the Final Eight Plan, that affects only the teams that reach the Divisional Round (the second week) of the playoffs.

Teams that lose in the second week will be limited in their ability to sign unrestricted free agents. They'll be able to sign one UFA to a large contract (more than about $5 million per year), and as many players as they want to small contracts.

Teams that reach the Conference Championships, however, get both presents and coal in their stockings. Win or lose, by being one of the final four teams, they will be subject to three major limitations:

•They can resign their own players with no additional restrictions beyond those placed on any other team.
•Beyond that, however, they can only sign one free agent for each one they lose, and the departing free agent's new contract sets a limit on the size of the new player's contract.
•The teams can trade for players given franchise and/or restricted free agent tenders, but they cannot circumvent the above rule by trading for a player they couldn't sign as a free agent.
•The teams are free to sign players that clear waivers, but not all players go through the waiver process before becoming UFAs.
In very simplistic terms, if 2010 is uncapped, 2009 is not the year a team wants to be Cinderella showing up at the ball.


For players, there are four major downsides.

First, the owners' obligations to player benefit plans is either greatly reduced or non-existent. A tiff erupted between NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell over the possibility that the NFL could reduce disability and/or pension payments for disabled payments (which the NFL wisely chose not to do). Similarly, the owners won't have to contribute to pension plans and other benefits for current players.

Second, many players who were expecting to be free agents won't be. Currently, players reach unrestricted free agency after four years of service. If the salary cap goes away, that number becomes six years. So, players now in their fifth year, such as Patriots guard Logan Mankins, will only become unrestricted free agents if a new CBA is signed this year.

Those players will instead become restricted free agents, which means that their teams can restrict their rights for relatively small salaries. So, while Mankins might easily earn $5 million per year in free agency, the Patriots could tender him, requiring a first-round pick in return, for about $2.5 million.

Somewhat paradoxically, this may mean there are fewer quality free agents available, rather than more, a fact that might please teams such as the New England Patriots that have many players with contracts expiring in 2009.

Third, not only does the dreaded franchise tag remain, but teams get an additional transition tag (which allows teams right of first refusal on any offer sheet signed by tagged players).

Finally, and most importantly, in addition to the salary cap, there is also a salary floor. In 2009 teams are required to spend a minimum of 87.6 percent of their salary cap allotments. If 2010 is uncapped, however, then owners are free to spend as much or as little of their money as they see fit. The net result may not be more money for every player, as players might hope, but rather for a select few.

It's hard to say exactly what will happen if 2010 turns out to be uncapped. But it stands to reason that many people who might be looking forward to it now will be unhappy if it actually comes to pass.

01-15-2010, 05:42 PM
Does this mean Snyder with Shanahan can buy their team kind of like the Yankees?

01-15-2010, 05:45 PM
Does this mean Snyder with Shanahan can buy their team kind of like the Yankees?

there are limitations if your a top 4 or maybe 8 team..

yes this does mean at least for now mike has carte blanc. which IMHO he will waste on Offense.and allow the D to wither on the vine.

01-31-2010, 01:05 AM
From another thread in BT from Carol

I found the following in an article on the Bears, which I posted under Other NFL - from that article, I found the following interesting: Not sure if this information has been posted already somewhere on BF .


Franchise: $16.405 million. Transition: $14.546 million.

Running back
Franchise: $8.156 million. Transition: $7.151 million.

Wide receiver
Franchise: $9.521 million. Transition: $8.651 million.

Tight end
Franchise: $5.908 million. Transition: $5.248 million.

Offensive line
Franchise: $10.731 million. Transition: $9.142 million.

Defensive end
Franchise: $12.398 million. Transition: $10.193 million.

Defensive tackle
Franchise: $7.003 million. Transition: $6.353 million.

Franchise: $9.68 million. Transition: $8.373 million.

Franchise: $9.566 million. Transition: $8.056 million.

Franchise: $6.455 million. Transition: $6.011 million.

Franchise: $2.814 million. Transition: $2.629 million.

02-16-2010, 04:44 AM

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- As we enter the second week of a football-less America, we can take solace in the fact that free agency is just around the corner -- March 5, to be exact. So until then, we can take a look at some of the top players available on both sides of the ball.

But this year's free agency period will be a little more complicated. Why? Because 2010 is defined as the "Final League Year," the term used in the collective bargaining agreement to refer to the last year of the agreement. The biggest differences between the Final League Year and any other is that there is no salary cap and there are additional restrictions on free agency.

One of those restrictions is that many players with four or more accrued seasons expecting to be unrestricted free agents on March 5 will be restricted free agents, unless as new CBA is in place before that date. In the Final League Year, a player whose contract has expired becomes an unrestricted free agenty only if he has six or more accrued seasons.

If a new CBA isn't in place by March 5, players with three, four or five accrued seasons will be restricted free agents. That includes Broncos the likes of Elvis Dumervil, Chris Kuper, Kyle Orton, Brandon Marshall and Tony Scheffler.

In the Final League Year, teams may designate an additional transition player in addition to the one franchise or transition player designation allowed in typical seasons. A transition player must be offered a minimum of the average of the top 10 salaries of the prior season at the player's position or 120 percent of the player's prior year's salary, whichever is greater. A transition player designation gives the club a first-refusal right to match any offer from another club within seven days. If the club matches, it keeps the player. If it doesn't, it receives no draft pick compensation from the other club -- the main difference from a franchise tag.

In addition, another free agency restriction comes in the form of the Final Eight Plan. The plan puts limitations on the eight teams who participated in the Divisional Round of last season's playoffs -- the Arizona Cardinals, San Diego Chargers, Indianapolis Colts, Dallas Cowboys, New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens, New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings.

The four clubs who won that week -- Indianapolis, New York, New Orleans and Minnesota -- can only sign an unrestricted free agent if one of theirs is signed by another team. The four who lost -- Arizona, San Diego, Dallas and Baltimore -- have the same limitations, but can also sign one unrestricted free agent for $5.5 million (estimated) or more in the first year of the contract. They also can sign any unrestricted free agents for less than $3.7 (estimated) million in the first year of the contract with limitations on how much the contract can increase in ensuing years.

For more on the CBA, check out the CBA Q&A story we posted a couple weeks ago.

With the specifics of this year's free agency period out of the way, here's a look at some of the best available players on offense:

Note: an (R) beside the player's name means a restricted free agent. A (U) means unrestricted, and (CBA) means the player will be a restricted free agent unless a new collective bargaining agreement is in place by the start of free agency -- March 5.

LenDale White (CBA) - One half of the vaunted "Smash & Dash" combo from the past two seasons, White undoubtedly brings the "Smash" to the equation. Though he has lost touches to the newest member of the 2,000-yard club, Chris Johnson, he has still proven effective near the goal line -- he had 15 touchdowns in 2008.

Leon Washington (CBA) - Washington has shown himself to be a receiving threat out of the backfield, a shifty running back and a downright scary returner. Even though he is recovering from a leg injury, Washington is still one of the top threats in this year's free agent market.

Jerome Harrison (CBA) - A virtual no-name even midway through the 2009 season, Harrison closed the campaign by setting the NFL record with 106 carries over a three-game stretch in Weeks 15-17. He showed the potential to be a feature back, especially after his Cleveland-record 286 yards and three touchdowns in Week 15.

Le'Ron McClain (R) - He had 902 yards rushing and 11 total touchdowns as a feature back in 2008, then turned around and blocked for one of the top runners in 2009 -- Ray Rice -- earning himself a trip to the Pro Bowl as a fullback.

Kyle Orton (CBA) - His 29-19 record as a starter speaks for itself, and he is coming off the best statistical season of his career, throwing for 3,802 yards and 21 touchdowns to just 12 interceptions. He completed 62.1 percent of his passes, good for a passer rating of 86.8.

Miles Austin (CBA) - Austin burst onto the scene in 2009, becoming the Cowboys' top option in the passing game. After catching just 13 passes in 2008, he hauled in 81 last season for 1,320 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Terrell Owens (U) - After three 1,000-yard seasons in Dallas, Owens caught just 55 passes for 829 yards in Buffalo, and hauled in five touchdowns -- his fewest since the 1999 season. But Owens is still a big-name receiver, and could draw interest from a number of teams come March 5.

Vincent Jackson (CBA) - Jackson's connection with Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers helped him rack up 2,265 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns in the past two seasons, and the 6-foot-5, 230-pound receiver could draw big interest even if he is a restricted free agent.

Brandon Marshall (CBA) - Marshall joined an elite list of receivers in 2009, as he completed his third straight season with 100 catches and 1,000 yards receiving. He caught a career-high 10 touchdowns last season and earned his second trip to the Pro Bowl.

Owen Daniels (CBA) - Daniels was a Pro Bowler in 2008, and was on pace to have perhaps his best statistical season if not for a season-ending injury in Week 8. One of Matt Schaub's top options in Houston, Daniels' pass-catching ability is what makes him one of the top tight ends in the league.

Tony Scheffler (CBA) - Scheffler has amassed nearly 2,000 yards receving and 14 touchdowns in his four seasons in Denver, and has shown the ability to be a game-changer -- as evidenced by his 101-yard, one-touchdown performance in a Week 6 win against the Chargers last season.

Jahri Evans (CBA) - New Orleans' right guard was a big reason why the team excelled in both the passing and running games. The 2009 Pro Bowler is only 26, and is fresh off a Super Bowl championship. It would most likely take plenty to get him out of New Orleans, but he has shown elite ability.

Chris Kuper (CBA) - Kuper started all 16 games for the Broncos in 2008 on an offensive line that allowed a franchise-low 12 sacks. He started all 15 games he played in 2009 at right guard, showing durability and an ability to stand up to interior pass rushers.

Stephen Gostkowski (CBA) - New England's kicker converted 83.9 percent of his field goals in 2009 after making 90 percent in 2008. He has made 100 percent of his extra points in each of the past three seasons. The 26-year-old kicker could draw plenty of interest.


QB Jason Campbell (CBA)
QB Matt Moore (R)
RB Willie Parker (U)
RB Pierre Thomas (R)
RB Darren Sproles (CBA)
RB Chester Taylor (U)
RB Cadillac Williams (CBA)
FB Leonard Weaver (CBA)
WR Steve Breaston (R)
WR Braylon Edwards (CBA)
WR Chris Chambers (U)
WR Muhsin Muhammad (U)
WR Antonio Bryant (U)
WR Malcom Floyd (CBA)
TE Anthony Fasano (CBA)
TE Bo Scaife (CBA)
TE David Thomas (CBA)
T Jared Gaither (R)
T Charlie Johnson (CBA)
G Logan Mankins (CBA)
C Kevin Mawae (U)
K Sebastian Janikowski (U)

Next week we will look at some of the top free agents on defense.

02-26-2010, 01:51 AM
Free Agency 101
Updated on January 15, 2009
Are you confused beyond belief about the NFL Free Agency? You may have heard such terms as "Unrestricted Free Agent", "Restricted Free Agent", "Franchise Tag", and "Transition Tag", and if you are very confused by what these terms mean -- don't feel embarrassed. Half of the sports journalism world doesn't seem to fully understand what these terms mean either!

Senior Editor
Al Lackner
Fear not. The Commish is here to help. Our goal is to provide you with a quick course on Free Agency so that you can understand what is going on here. By the time we're through with you, you will have the knowledge and power to second guess your favorite team's General Manager!


The notion of Free Agency itself is a relatively simple one. As defined in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) Between the NFL Management Council And the NFL Players Association (NFLPA), a Free Agent is "a player who is not under contract and is free to negotiate and sign a Player Contract with any NFL Club, without Draft Choice Compensation or any Right of First Refusal."

Sounds easy, right? Oh... if it were only that simple. There are many, many scenarios that the team and player may be presented with as set down by the CBA. And some of these scenarios actually DO allow for the notions of "Draft Choice Compensation" and "Right of First Refusal".

Before going any further, let's take a closer look at what the CBA is really all about.

The CBA was an agreement between the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) and the NFL owners to reach an equitable agreement in terms of the sharing of the pie, if you will. Basically, through the CBA the parties have realized that the goal of the players and the management should be the same—increasing the revenue pie instead of fighting over the existing amount—and the NFL has tailored the CBA to achieve that goal.

The NFLPA was rewarded with the concept of Free Agency, whereby players have the freedom to market their skills after a specific period of service. As a system of checks and balances, the owners sought a means of cutting back on the escalation of the players' salaries. This is accomplished by -- you guessed it -- the NFL Salary Cap. (See Caponomics 101.)

Compromise is an abundant theme found throughout the CBA. The Free Agency system is slightly limited by the team’s ability to protect certain athletes (Franchise and Transition players) from leaving by paying a salary equal to an average of the top players at his position. On the other hand, the salary cap is flexible by allowing owners to pay signing bonuses up front that exceed the cap, but the amounts are amortized over the life of the contract.

Note also that the current CBA is set to expire at the conclusion of the 2010 season, which means that 2009 is the final capped season under the existing agreement. Unless the CBA is extended or re-worked, there will be special and unique rules that govern the 2009 and 2010 seasons. I will address these rules in the coming weeks in my Salary Cap section.

Now that we know what the CBA is and how Free Agency and the NFL Salary Cap work to gauge one another, let's take a closer look at how the CBA specifically defines Free Agency.


The definition that we cited above by the CBA for a Free Agent is really the definition of an "Unrestricted Free Agent" (UFA). More specifically, an UFA is : "[a] player [that] shall be completely free to negotiate and sign a Player Contract with any Club, and any Club shall be completely free to negotiate and sign a Player Contract with such player, without penalty or restriction, including, but not limited to, Draft Choice Compensation between Clubs or First Refusal Rights of any kind." Basically, what that means is that an UFA is free to sign with the highest bidder (or the team of their choice) without that team having to give the original team any kind of compensation. When a player with five or more accrued seasons (or with four or more accrued seasons in any Capped Year) reaches the end of his player contract, he becomes an UFA.

Obviously, if the CBA is going to define a term for an "Unrestricted Free Agent", you would expect that they must also have something called a "Restricted Free Agent" (RFA). And, of course, you would be right. A RFA is "any Veteran player with three or more accrued seasons, but less than five accrued seasons (or less than four accrued seasons in any capped year)... At the expiration of his last Player Contract during such period... [the player] shall be completely free to negotiate and sign a Player Contract with any club, and any club shall be completely free to negotiate and sign a Player Contract with any such player, subject to... certain restrictions." The restrictions are the fun part.

The player's original team maintains the First Refusal Right if the team tenders a contract offer of one year at $1.01 M.

The player's original team maintains the Right of First Refusal and Draft Selection at the Player’s Original Draft Round (from the team with which he signs) if the team tenders an offer of one year at the same amount(s) listed above OR at least 110% of the player’s prior year’s salary -- whichever is greater.

The player's original team maintains the Right of First Refusal and Second Round Draft Selection (from the team with which he signs) if the team tenders an offer of one year at $$1.545 million OR at least 110% of the player’s prior year’s salary -- whichever is greater.

The player's original team maintains the Right of First Refusal and First Round Draft Selection (from the team with which he signs) if the team tenders an offer of one year at $2.198 million OR at least 110% of the player’s prior year’s salary -- whichever is greater.

The player's original team maintains the Right of First Refusal and First Round Draft Selection and Third Round Draft Selection (both from the team with which he signs) if the team tenders an offer of one year at $2.792 million OR at least 110% of the player's prior year’s salary -- whichever is greater.

In the event a Prior Club withdraws its Qualifying Offer, the RFA immediately becomes an UFA.

There is one other kind of free agent, which isn't really very "free" at all. That is the Exclusive Rights Free Agent (ERFA). Such a player has no more than two accrued seasons in the NFL and may only sign with his prior team, provided, of course, that the team extends a minimum qualifying offer to the player.

NFL teams have two other tools at their disposal that provide for greater leverage in securing Free Agents: the Franchise Tag and the Transition Tag.

Each Club can designate one of its players who would otherwise be an UFA or RFA as a Franchise Player each season. Something that even some of the most knowledgeable sports fans do not realize is that a team has the option of designating a Franchise player with one of two tags: "Exclusive" or "Non-Exclusive".

Any Club that designates a Franchise Player as "Exclusive" shall be the only Club with which that Franchise Player may negotiate or sign a contract. In order to designate an UFA or RFA as an Exclusive Franchise Player, the team must tender the player a one year contract that is the minimum of the average of the five largest salaries (as calculated at the end of the free agency signing period) for players at the position at which he played the most games during the prior year, or 120% of his prior year salary, whichever is greater.

If the team elects to name the player "non-exclusive" then the player shall be permitted to negotiate a contract with any Club as if he were an UFA; however, Draft Choice Compensation of TWO first round draft selections shall be awarded to the prior club in the event that he signs with the new club. For Non-Exlusive Franchise Players, the team must tender the player a one year contract that is the minimum of the average of the five largest PRIOR-YEAR salaries for players at the position at which he played the most games in the prior year, or 120% of his prior year salary, whichever is greater.

If the player elects to play with the prior club (the team that designated him with the Franchise tag) and does not negotiate another contract with that team, then the one year salary is guaranteed. Also, if the prior club elects to withdraw the qualifying offer, the player becomes an UFA.

Each Club can also designate one UFA or RFA as a Transition Player. Additionally, (in the final year of the CBA) each club may, in lieu of designating a Franchise Player, designate an additional Transition Player during the same designation period as the Franchise Player designation period. Whew! What that means is that a team may elect to tag two players with the Transition tag or one Transition Player and one Franchise Player in the final capped year. Any Club that designates a Transition Player shall receive the Rights of First Refusal. In order to designate an UFA or RFA as a Transition Player, the team must tender the player a one year contract for the average of the ten largest prior year salaries for players at the position at which he played the most games during the prior year, or 120% of his prior year salary, whichever is greater.

Time Frame

Teams can officially designate Franchise and Transition Players between Feb 5, 2009 and Feb 19, 2009.

February 26 is the deadline for clubs to submit qualifying offers to their RFAs whose contracts have expired and to whom they desire to retain a Right of First Refusal/Draft Compensation.

Free Agency officially begins on February 27. For RFAs, the period officially ends on April 17. The deadline for old clubs to exercise the Right of First Refusal to RFAs is April 24. For UFAs (including Franchise players and Transition players), who have been given a tender offer from their prior team, the period officially ends on July 22 or the first day of training camp -- whichever is later.

Under the old CBA, a team had until March 17 to work out a long term deal with its Franchise Player. If the team signed the Franchise Player between March 18 and July 14, the tag would have stayed with that player for the length of his contract, which meant that the team could not name another Franchise Payer until that player's contract was terminated. The updated CBA pushed that date back until July 22, the same as the free agency deadline. However, there remains a caveat: The club may NOT sign the tagged player to a long-term contract after July 14. That is, the team has until July 14 to sign the tagged player to a long-term contract; afterwards the player may sign only a one-year contract with his prior team, and the contract may not be extended until after the last regular season game.

A prior team has until June 1 to tender an UFA or a RFA a qualifying offer (worth at least 110% of the salary of the final year of the contract with the prior team). In the case of UFAs, if such an offer is made, the player has until July 22 to sign with a DIFFERENT club. If he doesn't, then the only team that the player can sign with after July 22, is the prior club. In the case of RFAs, if such a June 1 tender is made, the player can ONLY sign with the the prior club. If no June 1 tender is made for a RFA (or the tender is rescinded by the prior club before July 22), then the player becomes an UFA. In the case of both UFAs and RFAs, if the player does not sign with the Prior team by the first Tuesday following Week 10 of the regular NFL season, then the player shall be prohibited from playing in the NFL for the remainder of that season.

Deadline for old clubs to withdraw an original qualifying offer to a RFA and still retain exclusive negotiating rights by substituting tender of 110% of previous year’s salary is June 15.

02-26-2010, 12:07 PM
sucks to be the jets right now !:D

02-26-2010, 12:56 PM
Isn't there a date in 2010 where the owners can lock the players out if an agreement hasn't been reached...something like november? I might be completely out of line, but I think I had heard that somewhere.

02-26-2010, 03:14 PM
Isn't there a date in 2010 where the owners can lock the players out if an agreement hasn't been reached...something like november? I might be completely out of line, but I think I had heard that somewhere.
I believe that is after the uncapped year ends, sometime about MARCH 5-10 2011.

That would be the earliest but most would hold the threat over their heads when TC starts.

I do not see it getting that far.

While the owners have the least to lose since the TV networks still have to pay them IF there are no games in 2011. they have the golden goose in sports right now.

the players really have no bargaining chips other than to strike.

The vast majority of them have shown any restraint in spending every dime they make, so would still have bills to pay. remember that most of these huge contracts are almost halved because of TAXES they pay on them.

Lots of these clowns have $5K + house payment each month. AND CAR PAYMENTS. it takes a lot more to heat and cool a 6ooo Square foot house than yours and mine.

So the owners get paid and have less expenses than do the players.

Who blinks first.

Plus factor in all of those players this year that do not have 6 years accured that should be UFA's this year about 2oo I understand. and more coming next year. They want a pay check a bigger one than their rookie contracts.

So they will be pressing hard to get a CBA in place. they will throw the rookies to the wolves and cave fast on rookie salary caps the only stumbling block I see is the % of gross revenues that is now 60%.

03-06-2010, 05:00 PM
NFL Collective Bargaining agreement Q & A
March 4th, 2010 - 10:35am by mark_cooper
Back from a little hiatus. I’ve been interviewing, hired and am training a new assistant here at the office. Jan-Feb and this month have been busier in the local real estate and mortgage market than I’ve seen in the last three years, so hopefully that’s the beginning of the recovery I’ve been seeing in different parts of town.

On the NFL front, I have to admit even I’ve been confused about this agreement, so I’m posting a 20 question and answer session to hopefully help us all understand. I found this on another website to help explain what is going on.

Q. Why is the salary cap going away?

Since the early 1990s, the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL and the players’ union consistently has included a final year in which the salary cap disappears. The goal of the provision was to encourage the parties to get a new deal done more than a year before the current arrangement expires.

Previously, the strategy has worked. At no other time has the NFL even come within a year of an uncapped season. In 2006, the league and the union negotiated a new deal on the eve of the last season with a salary cap.

So this development and most if not all of its peculiar consequences have been contemplated for nearly two decades. Before now, however, no one wanted the cap to go away.

Q. How did we get to this point?

The 2006 CBA allowed the league and the union to terminate the contract two years early or one year early. At first, some believed the NFLPA ultimately would choose to pull the plug prematurely. In 2007, several influential owners began to speak out regarding the financial strains created by the most recent agreement.

In May 2008, the owners voted unanimously to end the contract two years early. The CBA expires in March 2011; the 2010 league year will therefore have no salary cap.

Efforts to negotiate a new CBA have failed for various reasons. The sudden illness and death of NFLPA Executive Director Gene Upshaw in August 2008 and the process for selecting a successor delayed the negotiations into 2009. But even once the bargaining sessions began, it became clear that progress would be elusive on the central question — the amount of money that the players will be paid.

The owners want to roll back the piece of total revenue (currently, 59.6 percent) paid to the players. The players are reluctant to reduce their share without proof that owners aren’t making money under the current deal. Currently, there is no reason to believe that either side will yield.

Q. Will there be a salary floor?

No, and many owners are believed to be preparing to cut labor costs by choosing to spend less than the mandatory minimum, $107 million per team in 2009.

But even without a salary floor, certain thresholds apply. Minimum salaries must be paid based on years of service.

Still, if a team is intent on enhancing profits, the team can dump high-dollar contracts and replace them with players making at or near the league minimum.

Q. Will some teams overspend?

It’s believed that most teams will exercise restraint. Several teams have said they’ll apply an artificial salary cap, better known in most businesses as a budget.

The reality, however, is that teams generating higher revenues will be in position to budget more money for players.

The Redskins are a team to watch in this regard. Some think that new G.M. Bruce Allen will counsel against excessive spending. Others think that owner Daniel Snyder won’t be able to resist the urge to splurge.

Another team that might be tempted to spend more than others is the Seahawks. Owner Paul Allen occupies a position among the richest owners in the league, and new coach Pete Carroll learned at the college level that recruiting better talent increases dramatically the chances of on-field success.

At the NFL level, the best recruiting tool is cash.

Q. Will a salary cap return at some point?

Upshaw vowed for years that, if the salary cap ever disappears, the players never would agree to another one. However, such a rigid position ignores the absence of a salary floor.

For both sides, the presence of a spending maximum and a spending minimum makes plenty of sense. Whether a cap or a floor or both ever returns will hinge on the terms of the agreement that is reached between the owners and the players.

The contours of a new system also will be the product of bargaining between the league and the union, with the parties ultimately having to come to a consensus as to the spending maximum, the spending minimum, and other rules that currently are set forth in a lengthy written contract.

Q. Can contracts be dumped in 2010 with no salary cap consequences?

Yes. In past years, teams had to weigh the decision to cut a player against the acceleration of bonus money applicable to future years. In some cases, it cost more under the cap to get rid of a player than it did to keep him.

In 2010, bad contracts can be wiped off the books with no ramifications, since there will be no salary cap and thus no acceleration of bonus money.

There’s one caveat. A new agreement could, in theory, reallocate to 2011 and beyond bonus money that was avoided by contracts terminated or traded in 2010. Whether and to what extent this occurs depends on the terms of the new CBA. Still, it seems unlikely that the new deal would reach back to 2010 and impose cap charges against teams that took advantage of the absence of a cap to clean the slate.

Q. Can contracts be negotiated with the bulk of the money being paid in 2010?

Again, the rules determined by the league and the union in the future will control this issue. A large signing bonus paid in 2010 easily could be spread over the life of the deal, resulting in additional cap charges in 2011 and beyond.

One possible approach entails paying the bulk of the money as a roster bonus or base salary in 2010. The problem with this concept, however, is that once a player has pocketed the full amount of money earned in 2010, he might be inclined to want more money in the out years, forgetting about the money he already has been paid. Alternatively, he could be more apt to retire.

So while there are ways to engineer a contract in order to maximize the cap charge in 2010, the year with no cap, a team needs to have high level of trust that a player who would be getting most of his money in the first year of the deal will still show up and play — and not ask for more money — in 2011 and beyond.

Q. Why is Shawne Merriman upset?

The Chargers linebacker is one of 200-plus players who would have been unrestricted free agents if a salary cap existed in 2010. Because the CBA provides that, in an uncapped year, players must have six years, not four, in order to qualify for unrestricted free agency, Merriman and other players whose contracts are expiring but who have only four or five years of service will not hit the open market.

This means that teams easily can retain rights to all of these restricted free agents via the application of one of the various RFA tenders. The Chargers, for example, have tendered four restricted free agents at the highest possible level. In any other year, they would have been able to limit only one of the four via the franchise or transition tag, and the Chargers would have been forced to either re-sign the other three — or let them leave via free agency.

Merriman recently said that he is “speechless” regarding his predicament, but he shouldn’t be. Long before he made it to the NFL, the rule pushing minimum eligibility for unrestricted free agency from four years to six in an uncapped year was on the books. He should not be surprised, and if he’s upset the anger should be directed at the union for allowing these team-friendly provisions to apply even when the owners were the ones who decided to terminate the labor agreement two years early.

Q. Will restricted free agents hold out?

Multiple reports have emerged recently regarding the possibility that restricted free agents who would have been unrestricted free agents will refuse to sign their one-year tender offers and skip all offseason activities and, possibly, training camp and the preseason.

For each such player, the key date is June 15. At that time, teams can reduce the tender offer (if it hasn’t been accepted) to 110 percent of the player’s 2009 salary. For some restricted free agents, the difference will be significant. For others, the difference will be small, allowing them to boycott all of the activities before the start of the season without losing any salary and without being subject to a fine.

Though the teams may rescind the tender offers at any time, doing so would make them unrestricted free agents.

Q. Will players under contract hold out?

Though players who have signed a contract covering 2010 are subject to fines for skipping mandatory offseason minicamps and training camp practices, it’s possible that players will decide to voice their overall discontent regarding the current situation by opting not to show up for optional offseason workouts.

It will be an interesting test of union solidarity. If the NFLPA can’t persuade players to voluntarily stay away from the grind of April-to-June T-shirt-and-shorts practices for which they receive only a modest per diem, it will be difficult if not impossible for the union to get the players to stick together in the event of a lockout or a strike, when the price will be forfeited game checks.

Q. What is the “Final Eight Plan”?

In an effort to ensure that the best teams from the last capped year won’t be able to corner the market on unrestricted free agents, the CBA places specific restrictions on the ability of the final eight teams — the Ravens, Colts, Jets, Chargers, Cardinals, Cowboys, Vikings and Saints — to sign players.

There are two distinct levels. For the final four teams (Colts, Jets, Vikings, Saints), a UFA from another team can’t be signed until a UFA is lost to a new team, and so on. Even then, the contract given to the new player must be comparable to the contract received by the player who left.

For the next four teams (Ravens, Chargers, Cardinals, Cowboys), the same rule applies, but each team may sign one UFA for a contract with a first-year value of $5.8 million or more and no restriction on future growth, along with an unlimited number of unrestricted free agents to contracts with a first-year value of $3.8 million or less, with specific limits on future growth.

Q. Can final eight teams sign restricted free agents?

Yes. The “Final Eight Plan” applies only to unrestricted free agents — that is, players with six or more years of service whose contracts expired when the uncapped year began.

This means that the final eight teams can pursue as many restricted free agents as they wish, regardless of whether the restricted free agents received a tender offer. For example, Chargers running back Darren Sproles, a restricted free agent with no restrictions because he received no tender, can be signed by any of the final eight teams.

Q. Can final eight teams sign players who were cut?

Yes. Though the CBA is vague on this point, the NFL interprets it to permit players with six or more years of service whose contracts are terminated to be signed by any of the final eight teams.

As a result, veteran running backs like LaDainian Tomlinson, Thomas Jones, and Brian Westbrook may be signed by one of the final eight teams. For running backs like Chester Taylor and Willie Parker, however, the limitations apply.

Q. Can final eight teams make trades?

Yes, with one exception. They cannot trade for players that they could not have signed as unrestricted free agents.

In other words, if the Saints wish to acquire Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers, they cannot arrange for another team to sign him as an unrestricted free agent and then make a trade with that team for Peppers’ contract.

Q. Will there be a lockout?

A lockout would come, at the earliest, in 2011. The union firmly believes that the NFL is preparing for a lockout. Some think the league is merely trying to make the players believe a lockout is coming. And some think that the union actually wants to force a lockout, in order to eventually get the best deal by creating havoc for the NFL via political and public pressure.

At this point, no one knows what the NFL will do. For specific reasons relating to labor law principles, the NFL will say only that it intends to bargain in good faith toward a new agreement.

David Cornwell, a finalist for the NFLPA Executive Director position last March, believes that the owners will not lock the players out, and that the owners will ultimately impose new work rules after the contract expires and after an impasse is reached via collective bargaining. Then, the players would have to decide whether to work under the new terms or strike.

Q. Will there be a strike?

Though at times there have been scattered rumors of a player walkout, the CBA contains a clear provision preventing a lockout or a strike before expiration of the deal. Thus, there will be no strike or lockout in 2010, and the full football season will be played.

After that, no one knows for sure what will happen.

Q. Will there be more or less movement in free agency?

At this point, no one knows. The reduced number of unrestricted free agents and the “Final Eight Plan” will necessarily shrinks the pool of available players and suitors. But there could be a more robust market for restricted free agents after the pursuit of unrestricted free agents dies down.

Regardless of the amount of movement, the union has vowed to monitor team spending. Eventually, the union could launch a P.R. attack against the league for not spending enough — or specific players may speak out regarding their own teams’ decision not to attempt to improve by acquiring free agents.

For now, the prevailing view is that teams will spend less, if for no reason other than to further pad the league’s 2011 lockout fund — regardless of whether the league plans to lock the players out or whether it’s all an elaborate bluff.

Q. Can players under contract get more money?

Yes, but with limitations. The so-called “30 percent rule” applies to any renegotiation, which will complicate the ability of teams to give significant raises to players already under contract.

Those nuances might be lost on veteran players who believe that the money should flow freely in an uncapped year, especially if they signed their contracts with the expectation that their 2010 compensation would take into account the existence of a salary cap.

Q. Will more trades occur?

Probably. In a capped year, trading a contract triggers cap consequences. In an uncapped year, the cap no longer will be an issue.

Thus, player trades could happen with greater frequency than in past years. Player-for-player trades specifically could increase.

Q. Once the uncapped year begins, is there any chance a deal will be struck during the 2010 season?

It’s highly unlikely that any agreement will be reached before the end of the 2010 season. Once salary commitments are made based on the absence of a salary cap and a salary floor, teams will have no desire to adopt new cap rules during a league year that already has begun.

Of course, an agreement can be reached in 2010 that would make new rules applicable as of 2011. But with teams and players focused on the football season once the football season starts, it makes more sense to defer any final deal until the period of time after Super Bowl XLV has been played and before the CBA expires in March.

So while an agreement won’t come until 2011, the lack of one looms large over the 2010 season. While the question of whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing will depend largely on perspective (and on the outcome of the coming season), things will be different this year.


03-14-2010, 10:10 AM
Good morning all,

Since this story will be an ongoing one for probably at least a year, I thought this thread would be good to post updates on.


Is there really a chance of a lockout?

Absolutely. To this point, negotiations have been described as genial but slow, and both sides are dug in. It's still early — the CBA doesn't expire until March 2011 (although there still would be a draft) — but there is a lot of ground to cover. Technically, there could be a lockout without any games being missed, ratcheting up the pressure for a settlement as the 2011 season approaches.

As for the argument that there's so much money at stake, owners eventually will snap to their senses, that was the logic that pushed them into a "bad" agreement in 2006. To be convinced this time, they'll need to hear a far more compelling case.