In less than two months, and barring an unlikely agreement between the NFL and the players union on a new CBA, the salary cap will disappear.
Since the salary floor also will evaporate, it’s believed that more teams will spend less, not more, in 2010.
The exceptions are expected to be the Cowboys and the Redskins, teams many believe will launch a Red Sox-Yankees-style spending spree in the hopes of buying the Super Bowl that will be played in, of all places, Dallas.
But with the Cowboys winning a postseason game for the first time since 1996, they now fall within the “Final Eight Plan,” a measure aimed at ensuring competitive balance in an environment with no spending limits.
Under Article XXI, Section 3 of the CBA, the Cowboys, Cardinals, Vikings, Saints, Jets, Ravens, Chargers, and Colts will be limited in their ability to sign unrestricted free agents in 2010.
First, the Final Eight teams may sign any unrestricted free agent who obtained that status by being released and clearing waivers.
Second, the Final Eight teams may sign any unrestricted free agent who was under contract with that team at the conclusion of the 2009 league year.
Third, one unrestricted free agent may be signed for each unrestricted free agent that a Final Eight team loses, but only at the same first-year salary the departed player receives elsewhere, with limitations on future growth of the deal.
Fourth, the Final Eight teams may sign one unrestricted free agent at a first-year salary of $4.925 million (plus the annual percentage increases in total football revenue since 2006), and an unlimited number unrestricted free agents at a first-year salary of $3.275 million (plus the percentage increases of total football revenue since 2006), with limitations on future growth of the deal.
The teams that win this weekend will be further limited, with the fourth option explained above disappearing.
So, basically, Redskins fans should be rooting for the Cowboys to win this weekend, and then to be “blowed out” in the NFC title game.