The Owner's Favorite
- Jun 30, 2009
- Reaction score
- Raleigh, NC
- Alma Mater
I just found this article in the online edition of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel on rule restrictions and their possible impacts on what is assumed to be an uncapped year in 2010. ( A bit of an emphasis on Packer news-but it is a Milwaukee newspaper.)
NFL life could be changing
Next year might be no salary cap
Posted: Nov. 27, 2009
After Sunday's games, there will be five weeks left in the season.
And possibly the National Football League as it's currently constituted.
As most everyone is well aware, next season is scheduled to be a year with no salary cap. When the owners decided last year to opt out of the collective bargaining agreement a year early - after the draft in 2011 instead of 2012 - it triggered a provision in the CBA that enacted an uncapped year in the final year of the deal, now the 2010 league year.
So right now the train is on the tracks and it's rolling toward an uncapped year starting in March.
But will it be the Armageddon for the smaller-market teams that many think it will be?
The thought of an uncapped year with the Jerry Joneses, Daniel Snyders and Robert Krafts of the league roaming the free-agent landscape is enough to keep fans in several markets awake at night.
But rest (somewhat) easy for the time being. There are rules in place to keep that from happening - to an extent. We'll explain some of those rules.
But first, the biggest question is, will it get that far? There are three months before "The Uncapped Year" commences.
Something can get done, right?
It can, but it won't.
While there have been ongoing talks between the league and the players association, not much has come from them. And when the union proposed that both sides meet in January for extensive talks with a self-imposed deadline to hammer out a deal before March, the league said, "Thanks, but no thanks."
According to several sources, the union believes the owners have no interest in extending the current deal beyond 2010.
The players believe the owners will use the uncapped year to fund their teams well below the minimum salary cap, believed to be around $108 million. The salary cap is currently $128 million.
Once the owners save millions in '10, they will lock the players out in '11 in order to get a much better deal for themselves in the next CBA.
That is what the union, behind closed doors, believes.
Of course, they could totally be misreading the owners. They're about as open a book as their private financial books have been to the union. Which is to say, completely closed.
Regardless of what happens in '11 and beyond, there will be football next season - unless the union violates the CBA and strikes. So here's a look at some of the rules in place to keep some teams from buying up all the available talent. It's Article XIX of the CBA, and it's titled, "The Final Eight Plan."
Yes, it sounds like something the Bowl Championship Series should adopt. In actuality, it's something that restricts the best teams in '09 - the final eight teams left in the playoffs - from going rogue on the free-agent market:
• The four teams that make the league championship games can't sign an unrestricted free agent unless and until they lose one of equal or more value;
• The four teams that lost in the divisional round can sign one high-priced unrestricted free agent (price undetermined yet) without having to lose one of their own. Once that maximum exception is burned, they are restricted like the top four teams in terms of big-ticket free agents. And they can also sign as many mid-level free agents as they want (price undetermined).
• Starting on the first day of the first NFL training camp, any team - even those in the final eight - can sign an unrestricted free agent, provided his former club didn't tender him by June 1. This likely will be crucial for injured Packers linebacker Aaron Kampman. If he doesn't sign in the normal free-agency period and the Packers don't tender him by June 1, he'll be free to sign with any team once training camps start. If the Packers tender him in May, Kampman will only be able to negotiate with the Packers once camps start.
• The minimum service time needed to become an unrestricted free agent goes from four to six years. This hits a player like Packers safety Nick Collins, who is finishing his fifth season, hard. Normally he would be an unrestricted free agent after this season. Teams have one additional tag in order to retain players that are due to be free agents. Before '10, teams could use either a franchise (two first-round picks as compensation) or transition tag (right to match). In '10, teams can use one of each. Teams that finish in the final eight can sign those players, just like other teams.
• And, finally, while there will be no salary cap, there won't be a salary floor, either. And it is believed that the veteran's minimum salaries will go way down.
So while the league's long-term future and the likely uncapped year sound a bit scary, it's not going to be the end-all and be-all of the league - yet.