Assuming that there is no CBA agreed to by midnight Thursday, the 2010 NFL season will be without a salary cap leading to one of the most unpredictable offseasons in recent memory. No one knows which teams will come out on top after an uncapped free agency period, but Kevin Acee of The San Diego Union-Tribune feels the Chargers could benefit the most.
Malcom Floyd, Vincent Jackson, Marcus McNeill, Shawne Merriman and seven others are under Chargers’ control rather than having already been signed to a long-term deal or readying to hit the open market.
For now, rather than having to commit perhaps as much as $50 million in guaranteed money to keep Floyd, Jackson, McNeill and Merriman with long-term contracts, the Chargers are on the hook for less than $13 million in 2010 if all are on the roster.
The Chargers have made it known to agents and players that they intend to put the first-and-third-round tender on Floyd, Jackson, McNeill and Merriman.
That ostensibly guarantees the Chargers a first- and a third-round pick in next month’s draft if one of those players signs with another team.
The possibility of that actually happening appears dubious.
While Giants General Manager Jerry Reese acknowledged, “It’s going to be interesting to see how people move with the restricted free agents,” most GMs at the Combine said they don’t expect a dramatic increase in the number of restricted free agents changing teams.
In fact, last season, for the first time since the current CBA came into being in 1993, not a single RFA changed teams out of the 54 that could have.
Over the four years before that, just 14 of 345 available RFAs changed teams. That is compared to the 639 unrestricted free agents (out of 1,621) that have moved on over the past five offseasons.
While it’s rare for a restricted free agent to change teams, there have never been so many available. Either way there is no doubting that the Chargers are in great position this offseason.
For a team that has most of their positions covered (thanks to the lack of a CBA) they can concentrate all of their free agency efforts to one or two areas of need. There’s nothing stopping them from keeping Darren Sproles (their own unrestricted free agent) or bringing in someone like Chester Taylor or Thomas Jones to sure up the running back position.
Unfortunately, the Chiefs aren’t benefiting nearly as much from the lack of a CBA. They have already re-signed Matt Gutierrez and Kolby Smith, plus will keep Derrick Johnson, Rudy Niswanger, Jarrad Page, Brodie Croyle and Corey Mays if they want them back. Only Niswanger, Page and Mays were starters and none of them would have cost much on the open market.
We don’t know how much money Clark Hunt is willing to spend, but I would have much rather taken my chances with an additional 212 players available to Scott Pioli via free agency.