With most NFL teams taking full advantage of the rules of the uncapped year, specifically as they apply to restricted free agents, discontent seems to be growing among the men who have been blocked from hitting the open market — and who in turn haven’t gotten long-term deal from their current teams.
“This is the worst offseason that I have been associated with since I have been an agent, and this is my 23rd season,” agent Drew Rosenhaus told Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal. “This has been a terrible offseason for NFL players for the most part. Collusion or not, the NFL has decided not to be aggressive in signing guys.”
Still, many of the players who received restricted free agency tenders accepted the one-year deals. As of May 31, only 37 remained unsigned. Several others have inked their tender offers since then, including players like Cardinals guard Deuce Lutui, Ravens tackle Jared Gaither, Ravens safety Dawan Landry, Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis, Panthers cornerback Richard Marshall, Cowboys receiver Miles Austin, Cowboys safety Gerald Sensabaugh, Texans tight end Owen Daniels, Dolphins tight end Anthony Fasano, and Chargers receiver Malcom Floyd. Of those players, only Colts safety Antoine Bethea received a long-term deal.
The recent rash of signings undoubtedly comes from the looming June 15 deadline, on which date the original tender offers can be cut to 110 percent of the player’s 2009 base pay. Thus, no one should interpret a player’s decision to take the offer before it reduces as content on the part of the employee.
“Every team in the NFL I can think of has a number of unhappy players,” Rosenhaus told Mullen. “I don’t think anyone who waits until June to sign a contract because there is a gun to his head is going to be happy.”
Rosenhaus also suggested that unhappiness will manifest itself on the field. “Players are not machines,” he told Mullen. “They are human beings and they have emotions and it affects their performance. When you go to work and you are not happy, you don’t perform as well.”
Thus, over the long haul, the decision not to pay players now could create some major issues down the road. “The teams think they are getting great deals now because they are getting players at depreciated and devalued levels because of the extra years of restricted free agency,” agent Peter Schaffer told Mullen. “The reality is those players will become free agents and players don’t have short memories.”
Agent Ben Dogra amplified that point, telling Mullen that when the new labor deal has been finalized, “You will see the biggest free agency class in NFL history.”
At this point, no one knows when that will happen.