The salary cap disappears on March 5. When it goes, the Steelers plan to replace it with one of their own.
According to the Associated Press, the Steelers will restrict their spending as if a salary cap still existed.
“We will operate as we always have. We will operate as if we have a
cap,” Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert recently said. “You don’t know what you’re going to be
dealing with. First of all, no one’s been in an uncapped year since
1993, so it’s a whole different era and no one knows how this will play
out. We don’t know, if there is a new [labor] deal at any point, what
the new rules are going to be.”
Other clubs would be wise to do the same thing. Then again, each one will. It’s called in other businesses a “budget.”
At a certain point, however, the approach could fuel a collusion claim, especially if the union believes that teams generally aren’t spending in free agency as much as they have in past years.
In other words, even though the labor deal doesn’t expire for another year, the chess match between the NFL and the union could have a real impact on the 2010 season — and the fans should be prepared to make their displeasure known if teams aren’t trying to get better by spending money.