Receiver Sidney Rice plans to test the free-agent waters before deciding whether to remain a Viking. If the Vikings have their way, he’ll do it as a restricted free agent.
Jeremy Fowler of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that the team has applied restricted free agency tenders to Rice, defensive end Ray Edwards, defensive end Brian Robison, safety Husain Abdullah, and offensive lineman Ryan Cook.
Rice and Edwards received first-round tenders; the rest were tendered at the second-round level.
Teams are applying the tenders because the rules of the uncapped year make players eligible for unrestricted free agency only after racking up six years of service. If the new labor deal (when there’s a new labor deal) reduces the threshold to the capped-year minimum of four, the RFA tenders presumably will evaporate.
So why are teams treating players who are destined to be unrestricted as if they’re restricted? It’s all part of the leverage game; if/when the union begins to make concessions on issues like the revenue formula or the length of the season or the rookie wage scale, the league can agree to move the trigger for unrestricted free agency from six to four years, and the players will be able to claim that they scored a victory at the bargaining table.