Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Free Agency Just Hours Away

Free Agency will begin in just a few hours. Fans are eagerly awaiting the start to see what teams are going to make a big signing and what teams get left in the dust.  Everybody wants the best, but every year, countless teams get left at the alter. Agents know that this is the best period to get a good deal for their clients. Heading into free agency, there are two huge stories.

First off, Peyton Manning is going to determine much of how the free agency period plays out. The list of teams that want a shot at Manning is daunting. Manning stated that he would like to have a decision by today. If Manning delays, several teams could be forced to wait on signing other free agents while Manning decides. This could cause teams to be at a disadvantage when signing free agents beacause they may not be able to argue specifics on salary. While I do expect most teams to be able to float a ballpark number, Manning will control the free agent market.

The other big issue is the reported 46 million dollar cap removal that the league is imposing on the Cowboys and the Redskins. While there is a point that the teams may have broke a gentleman's agreement in regards to contracts for free agents (Dallas with Miles Austin and Washington with Albert Haynesworth and DeAngelo Hall), there was no actual written rule for the uncapped year. It is expected that all other teams with the exceptions of the Saints and Raiders will receive around 1.6 million dollars worth of extra cap space. This is all rather hazy at the moment. Fans are understandably frustrated with this ruling, especially since the NFL approved all of the contracts. Dallas will be facing 10 million dollars removed, but Washington is the team that is really getting hit the worst. The Redskins are being penalized 36 million. The Redskins, as you may or may not know, just recently sold the farm to the St. Louis Rams to be able to draft RG3 (or Andrew Luck if the Colts have a sudden change of heart). They gave up three 1st round picks and a second rounder. Free agency was how the Redskins were going to put RG3 around good talent.

In my opinion, the NFL is penalizing two teams that, while they may have broke a gentleman's agreement, had league approval for what they did. While trying to protect the competitive balance, the NFL has actually limited that very principle of competitive balance.

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