More and more, with each passing day, it’s looking like a reality that next year will be an uncapped year in the NFL. For some that means free and easy money! Or does it?
MYTH #1: Unrestricted free agency will be eliminated, therefore no signing of free agents.
FALSE. Greatly curtailed, but not eliminated. UFAs with less than 6 years of service will be deemed Restricted, but those with more than 6 years (aka, the Golden Oldies) will retain their Unrestricted status. I believe that means another year for Ephraim Salaam to land on a team!
MYTH #2: This off-season will see a lot of trades.
TRUE: Certainly relative to other years. After all, trading in the NFL isn’t quite what it is in Major League baseball, so even 5 trades will seem like a lot. But I think, specifically because it’s (going to be) an uncapped year, there will be an inordinate amount. Here’s why. With Uncapped comes Restricted Free Agents. With Restricted Free Agents comes "Assigned Value." That means for me to steal away one of your RFAs, it’s gonna cost as much a as a first and third round pick. Instead, I’m gonna work a little more creatively to mix and match needs. To get your RFA Wide Receiver, I’m gonna offer you an Offensive Lineman and a 4th round pick. And if you throw in a Running Back, I’ll give you a conditional pick for the following year. These GMs may have to shake off a little of that "wheeler and dealer" rust.
MYTH #3: Money’s gonna RAIN DOWN on Free Agents!
FALSE: A simplistic view of "uncapped" tells us that teams won’t have that pesky league restriction of how much they can spend. But there are a few things at work that are going to keep salaries fairly close to where they are now.
1. Affordability is already maxed out. At least, that’s the story that several teams will have us believe: that they just can’t afford any more than what they’re already paying.
2. There will eventually – at some point – be a CBA. And that CBA will probably return the league to the grand times of Salary Cap-dom. And if you "make it rain" in 2010, what are you gonna do in 2011? The league will probably allow teams a couple years to get salaries back down to the cap, but if you spend $100 mil and you need to get it down to 75, that’s gonna be a tough wake-up call.
3. Sending a message. It would not be in the league’s – ie., the owner’s – best interest to shell out a lot of dough while they’re negotiating a new CBA -- especially when the player’s union wants to see their books. It’s gonna be hard to claim any kind of hardship if all of a sudden your payroll has climbed to $100 million.
MYTH #4: Ultimately, this off-season won’t feel that much different than any other.
TRUE: There will still be plenty of player movement, it will just take on different forms. And even though they won’t be referred to as "salary cap casualties," there will be plenty of players to choose from off the scrap heap.