Last night, we set forth a comprehensive set of 20 questions and answers regarding the uncapped year. You can see them right here.
But it wasn’t comprehensive. During a Thursday morning spot with Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton of WFAN, Craig asked a good question (proving yet again that there’s a first time for everything . . . zing!).
He wondered whether a final four team like the Jets, which only sign an unrestricted free agent after losing an unrestricted free agent and then is limited to the same first-year “salary” received by the departed player, can wait for kicker Jay Feely to sign with a new team for a “salary” of $1 million in 2010 and promptly sign defensive end Julius Peppers for a “salary” of $1 million in 2010 — and a $40 million signing bonus.
I wasn’t able to cite the specific rule at the time, but my sense was that this wouldn’t be allowed. Article XXI, Section 6 of the CBA has the operative language: “For purposes of this Article, ‘Salary’ means Paragraph 5 Salary, roster and reporting bonuses, pro-rata portions of signing bonuses, likely to be earned incentive bonuses, and other payments in compensation for the playing of professional football.”
So, basically, no final four team will be signing a big-money unrestricted free agent (which for purposes of the Final Eight Plan means a player with six or more years of service whose prior contract expired as of March 5) unless and until it has lost an unrestricted free agent under that same definition to a big-money contract.
As we pointed out last night, all other free agents — unrestricted or restricted — are fair game for the final eight teams from 2010.