The Bears have joined the growing chorus of NFL teams that have declared publicly a desire to exercise restraint in the first season sans salary cap since the salary cap was first implemented.
According to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, Bears president Ted Phillips said Friday that his team won’t go “hog wild” in free agency.
“I think you guys know our
strategy has always been kind of balanced in free agency and work
through the draft and every other area to try to add players to the
team,” Phillips said. “It’s not all about free agency. I think the reality that teams’
success, at least in the NFL, is not based on how much money you spend
in free agency.”
And so, by our count, there are now six that have declared, by talk of artificial caps or “building through the draft” or not going “wild” in free agency, an intention to be careful when it comes to spending money: the Steelers, Bears, Lions, Buccaneers, Falcons, and Browns. With the final four teams from 2009 (Colts, Jets, Vikings, Saints) having no choice but to ix-nay on the ee-fray agents, nearly a third of the league won’t be taking advantage of the lack of spending limits.
The actual number will surely be much higher, given that teams like the Packers, Bengals, and Cardinals historically haven’t spent a ton of money on free agents.
The real question is whether any of the other teams will go “nuts” or “wild’ or “hog wild” when it comes to buying up players in a market that isn’t nearly as deep as in past years. The Raiders’ decision to pay $9 million guaranteed to kicker Sebastian Janikowski could be evidence of another attempt to spend their way into contention. The Redskins traditionally have preferred high-priced veterans to reasonably-priced rookies, despite the fact that the approach hasn’t worked. And the Seahawks could try to couple owner Paul Allen’s billions with Pete Carroll’s recruiting skills.
Still, with much confusion and uncertainty lurking regarding the rules that will apply once a new labor deal is in place, it makes no sense to unleash a Red Sox/Yankees strategy. And so the uncapped year, which previously had been sold to the players as a very good thing, will likely be the exact opposite.
Though it undoubtedly won’t be enough to persuade the players to accept the league’s pending offer before March 5, as March 5 approaches there likely will be more than a few members of the union who’d prefer that 2010 unfold like every other past year of the free agency era.