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Released players are fair game for "final eight" teams

The labor agreement contains plenty of hidden provisions that make it harder for teams that did well in 2009 to gobble up free agents in the uncapped year.

But there’s a provision of the “Final Eight Plan” that the league will be interpreting in a manner that expands the pool of players that the division-round teams can sign without consequence.

Article XXI, Section 2(a) of the CBA allows the final eight teams (Ravens, Colts, Jets, Chargers, Cardinals, Cowboys, Vikings, Saints) to sign “any Unrestricted Free Agent who acquired that status as a result of the NFL waiver system.”

This provision easily could be read as applying only to players who become unrestricted free agents after passing through waivers; from the end of the 2009 season through the 2010 trade deadline, players with four of more years or service are not required to clear waivers before becoming free agents, so they don’t acquire UFA status “as a result of the NFL waiver system.”

NFL director of corporate communications Dan Masonson, who has been incredibly helpful to our efforts to understand the nuances of the labor deal, tells us that the final eight teams will be permitted to sign any players who have been released from their contracts, regardless of whether they had to pass through the waiver system before becoming free agents.

The limitations of the Final Eight Plan, as Masonson explained it, apply only to players with six or more years of service whose contracts expire after the 2009 season.

So if, for example, quarterback Marc Bulger is released by the Rams, one of the final eight teams could sign him.  Ditto for Dolphins linebacker Joey Porter, and any other player who’ll be dumped from his current deal.

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11 Responses to “Released players are fair game for "final eight" teams”
  1. boleyn9 says: Feb 19, 2010 9:16 AM

    Not according to NFL.com’s Steve Wyche…
    Couldn’t one of those top four teams cut a player to create that void to sign somebody else?
    No. A cut player will not be considered an unrestricted free agent. This rule applies to all teams who finished in the top eight (enter San Diego, Dallas, Arizona and Baltimore). Only a player with an expiring contract counts as an unrestricted free agent for those top eight teams.
    So if the Chargers were to release Tomlinson, they couldn’t re-sign a free agent in his spot?
    No, because San Diego is a top eight team. Tomlinson would not qualify as an unrestricted free agent for the Chargers. He would be free to sign with any team, though. Whether he draws as much attention as free-agent running backs Chester Taylor (Minnesota), Larry Johnson (Cincinnati) or Willie Parker (Pittsburgh) remains to be seen. It is not a deep group as of now.”

  2. zibit says: Feb 19, 2010 9:51 AM

    It doesnt count as a free agent loss to the team that cuts him is what Wyche is saying..

  3. .VoxVeritas says: Feb 19, 2010 10:00 AM

    boleyn9 Wyche was talking about whether final 8 teams could cut a player in order to create a condition in which they could sign another free agent. Cut players will not be considered a free agent loss for the purpose of skirting the final 8 rule.

  4. thejetsblog says: Feb 19, 2010 10:21 AM

    Florio, for a lawyer who runs a website that’s seeming main purpose is NFL news and analysis around topics like the salary cap, player contracts, CBA and the like … how is it that you are JUST coming to this understanding of the rules?
    While you are getting people to basically spoonfeed you on this subject, other sites (like mine) have had writers busting their ass analyzing this for WEEKS now … yeesh.

  5. deadboy1111 says: Feb 19, 2010 10:34 AM

    How do you know he is JUST coming to this understanding. Isn’t this the first time in a LONG time anyone has really needed to understand this. When was the last un-capped season? Thats what I thought.
    -boleyn9-
    All he was saying was that a player has to be passed through waivers (cut/released) before being signed by a top 8 team. I read what Wyche wrote and it had nothing to do with what Florio was saying. If Tomlinson is cut by San Diego he is fair game to anyone because he is not an unrestricted/restricted free agent. The only way a top 8 team can sign an unrestricted/restricted free agent is to lose one first then they can sign one, but only if the first years value is equal to or lower than the value as the one lost, unless like Florio said has passed through waivers first.

  6. WTE says: Feb 19, 2010 10:42 AM

    HELP ME!!!!!
    I’m so confused!!

  7. boleyn9 says: Feb 19, 2010 11:17 AM

    You’re right. My apologies.

  8. TheDeuceIsLoose says: Feb 19, 2010 12:02 PM

    # thejetsblog says: February 19, 2010 10:21 AM
    Florio, for a lawyer who runs a website that’s seeming main purpose is NFL news and analysis around topics like the salary cap, player contracts, CBA and the like … how is it that you are JUST coming to this understanding of the rules?
    While you are getting people to basically spoonfeed you on this subject, other sites (like mine) have had writers busting their ass analyzing this for WEEKS now … yeesh.
    Yeah but Jets suck so… I’d rather read Florio!

  9. MN Boise Fan says: Feb 19, 2010 12:59 PM

    So, hypothetically, the Vikings could let Chester Taylor leave, sign one unrestricted FA at, say CB, the same contract that chester got elsewhere, and then sign tomlinson as a back up running back. Do I have that right?
    Not saying it will happen or that I want it to happen, but the scenario is correct, right?

  10. sandy70 says: Feb 19, 2010 1:25 PM

    It only took two days after Stallworth was signed by a “final eight” team for this realization to sink in?
    That WVU sheepskin keeps earning it’s keep, that’s for sure.

  11. thejetsblog says: Feb 19, 2010 2:33 PM

    @TheDeuceisLoose lol I don’t blame you. :)
    My point is, with much power comes much responsibility. My problem is that stuff is written almost to incite panic, then researched (nay corrected by sources) later.
    For instance, Bob Glauber at Newsday wrote about this two weeks ago … PFT has more all the resources at it’s disposal than most publications combined, has all the ability to CORNER this topic than and yet we’ve got stuff rushed to print half-baked, only to be retracted time and again.
    I know it’s fun to stand around Radio Row SuperBowl week and shoot the crap with Donnie Brasco Banks, but jeez … a little elbow grease and research would go a long way before hitting the PUBLISH button, that’s all I’m saying.

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