Earlier this week, a memo from NFLPA Executive Director De Smith to all players and agents strongly suggested that the union will be taking a close look at the money teams spend — or don’t spend — on free agents.
On Friday, Smith was even more direct, telling reporters that the union will be monitoring the expenditures “very closely” when the annual free-agent spending spree opens on March 5, according to Mark Maske of the Washington Post.
Per Maske, Smith didn’t mention the possibility of a collusion charge. But in our view Smith didn’t need to. If/when teams don’t spend as much as the union thinks the teams should spend, there will be trouble.
We think it will begin with key players like Tom Brady complaining about their respective teams’ failure to take advantage of the lack of a spending limit to become more competitive. And we think it will culminate in formal collusion charges.
This is a complex game that consists of equal parts chess and chicken. Smith currently is lining up the pieces for an eventual move based on a contention that the teams have implicitly agreed to enhance their 2011 lockout fund by not spending as much money in 2010 on free agents as they could, or arguably should.