Tip Sheet: An 'all-star' team to avoid
Minus a new CBA, some free agents will wear unwanted "restricted" labels
At their pre-Super Bowl news conferences last week, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and league commissioner Roger Goodell presented the respective stances of their constituents.While the rhetoric and tone of the two men was certainly disparate, their message was pretty much the same: The NFL is headed for an "uncapped" season in 2010. There are ramifications beyond that, of course -- such as a potential lockout in 2011 if a new extension to the collective bargaining agreement isn't finalized by March 5 -- but the most immediate impact for players will be the lack of a spending ceiling or salary floor next season.
And while NFLPA officials were adamant that they have educated their members about what lies ahead -- and most understand the realities of an uncapped season -- it doesn't mean that players have to like what is about to occur.
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The limit in the past has been four seasons, and the increase to six will have a profound effect.Weaver, who signed a one-year contract with Philadelphia last spring, after spending his first four seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, is certainly an unusual case. Weaver gained unrestricted free agency last spring, and his one-year deal with the Eagles was designed in part to put him back on the market in 2010. But because he has just five accredited seasons in the NFL, and not the six required by the uncapped year, Weaver is a restricted free agent again. The Pro Bowl fullback is hardly alone.
Essentially by definition, because the six-year requirement for unrestricted free agency means that most available veterans will be older players, there will be less movement of younger players.The average age of the 22 players on the ESPN.com all-restricted team (see boxes below), not counting kickers, is just 26.2 years. Only one of the players, Titans defensive tackle Tony Brown, is older than 29. Eight of the veterans are 25 or younger. The owners who do decide to spend money in free agency could be doing so on a pool of players whose futures are more difficult to project. Said New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft after taking in the sobering reality of the commissioner's address: "It's going to be tricky for everyone."
Restricted All-Stars: Offense
Without an extension to the collective bargaining agreement, the 2010 season will be an "uncapped" year. Under those circumstances, players will need six accredited seasons (not the usual four) to be eligible for unrestricted free agency. The change could affect more than 200 players, who otherwise would have been unrestricted. Here are some of the best, by position.
|LT||Jammal Brown||New Orleans||5|
|LG||Logan Mankins||New England||5|
|RG||Jahri Evans||New Orleans||4|
|RT||Jeremy Trueblood||Tampa Bay||4|
|RB||Darren Sproles||San Diego||5|
|PK||Stephen Gostkowski||New England||4|
Restricted All-Stars: Defense
|NT||Barry Cofield||N.Y. Giants||4|
|WLB||Shawne Merriman||San Diego||5|
|FS||Nick Collins||Green Bay||5|
|SS||Roman Harper||New Orleans||4|