When the words “uncapped year” first started appearing in the media to describe the NFL’s 2010 season if the league and the union don’t agree on a new deal, they were used largely to describe a season in which NFL players would see massive pay increases as owners unconstrained by the salary cap out-bid each other for players’ services.
But now that an uncapped year is close to coming to fruition, players are starting to realize it won’t necessarily be so lucrative for them.
The Associated Press reports that 212 players will be restricted free agents — rather than unrestricted free agents — if there’s no new labor deal this off-season. Players currently need four years in the league to qualify for unrestricted free agency, but in an uncapped year they’ll need six years.
One of those players is Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton, and he said he and other players in his situation are starting to realize that an uncapped year won’t be a good thing for them.
”Free agency’s always been something for the players, always been a great thing. If you get one crack at free agency as a player, that’s what you dream of,” Orton said. ”How it stands right now … guys aren’t going to be able to have that dream, to be a free agent. That’s a shame for the players, I think.”
In addition to Orton, high-profile players who would have become unrestricted free agents but will be restricted in the uncapped year include Miles Austin of the Cowboys, Brandon Marshall of the Broncos, Elvis Dumervil of the Broncos, DeMeco Ryans of the Texans, Jason Campbell of the Redskins, Nick Collins of the Packers, Logan Mankins of the Patriots, Jahri Evans of the Saints, Shawne Merriman of the Chargers, Braylon Edwards of the Jets and Ronnie Brown of the Dolphins.
UPDATE: Brown has an unusual contract that ties the sixth year to the CBA process. Brown explained to the Miami Herald, “If they don’t come to an agreement for 2010, I’m under contract to the
Dolphins for another year. I have to play another year under the old
contract because it becomes a six-year contract.”