The uncapped year begins in fewer than 48 hours. And one of the strange tweaks to the rule comes from the so-called Final Eight Plan.
Two levels apply. For the final four teams (Saints, Colts, Vikings, Jets), they may sign their own unrestricted free agents (e.g., the Colts may sign linebacker Gary Brackett) but they may sign an unrestricted free agent from another team only after losing one of their unrestricted free agents (e.g., the Colts may pursue Vikings running back Chester Taylor only after Brackett signs with another team).
For teams No. 5 through No. 8 (Chargers, Ravens, Cardinals, Cowboys), the Final Eight Plan carries with it an exception. A big one. One unrestricted free agent may be signed for a first-year salary above a certain number, and an unlimited amount may be signed at a first-year salary below a certain number, with limited growth in the future.
The numbers have been finalized, finally.
For the former category, the first-year salary is $5,807,475. For the latter, it’s $3,861,823.
So the Cowboys, for example, can break the bank for one guy, as long as he gets at least $5,807,475 in 2010 — and then they can round up as many guys as they want at $3.86 million in year one and 30-percent growth each year thereafter.
We’ll be summarizing all of the rules of the uncapped year, with links back to the more detailed items on the subject, later today.