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Big free-agency class will create a buyer’s market

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With last year’s free-agency restrictions limiting the size of the class and with the threshold for unrestricted free agency expected to move back from six years to four, many are expecting a crazed, frenetic market once a new labor deal is finalized and the lockout ends.

But with all fourth-year, fifth-year, and sixth-year players whose contracts have expired (and who haven’t received the franchise tag designation) hitting the shelf at once (along with players with expired contracts who have seven years of experience or more, and who haven’t received the franchise tag designation), that could be a bad thing for plenty of the players.  Each team will have a budget; even with the cash expenditure requirement expected to move well north of 90 percent of the salary cap, teams don’t have to spend all of that money on free agents.  They can choose to extend the contracts of players already on the team.

And so, to a certain extent, a game of musical chairs will be played, with only so many players getting huge money, with plenty of players getting good money, and with a decent number forced to take whatever they can get, once teams have met their needs.

The good news is that some teams may choose to sign veteran free agents over giving undrafted free agents a chance to make the team, given that there will be limited opportunities to catch the team’s attention in training camp and the preseason.  Still, veterans who are signed in lieu of rookies could have a hard time making the final 53-man roster.  Which would keep them from earning whatever base salaries they receive.  (Also, the presence of a veteran in lieu of an undrafted rookie could make it harder for a veteran already under contract to keep his job.)

Since supreme confidence tends to be one of the prerequisites for success in pro sports, the men who are poised to hit the market if/when the lockout ends surely are thinking they’ll be getting the big paydays early in the process, and not settling for whatever scraps they can get after the music stops.  And the fact that the process has been delayed by more than three months surely is making them more anxious for the process to start.

Still, with so many guys hitting the market, however, plenty of them are destined to be disappointed.

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19 Responses to “Big free-agency class will create a buyer’s market”
  1. nahcouldntbethat says: Jun 24, 2011 11:46 PM

    Absolutely agree with this. In any market-oriented process scarcity drives up prices and abundance lowers them. I expect the large free agent class to produce a few big winners and a lot of guys settling for a decent contract instead of the bonanza they’d get if there were fewer options surrounding them in the marketplace.

    Offsetting the abundance of talent on the market will be a lot of newly available funds to chase them with due to the new higher salary floor. The larger cash pool isn’t likely to trickle down to the tier 2 talent however. Instead it is likely to fuel a major bidding war for the tier 1 players available.

    This is because teams when pressed to spend cash are going to want to invest it solidly in the players they can market the best. They’ll spend heavily to get names for their marketing team to exploit for maximum return. They’ll take what’s available at a reasonable price from the tier 2 bin, which is going to be the bargain bin this year.

    Santonio Holmes is going to get his huge deal from somebody. Braylon Edwards is going to settle for what the market brings when Malcom Floyd, Steve Smith, Sidney Rice, Steve Breaston, Mike Williams, Randy Moss, Terrell Owens and TJ Houshmandzadeh are alongside him and Holmes on the market.

  2. valman61 says: Jun 24, 2011 11:48 PM

    I’m interested in seeing if teams retain the majority of their players or really shake things up. This could be a different league next year between the new rules and the free agent list basically a whose who of top taken from virtually every team. Im happy my team, the giants, will likely have to keep up with the talent of the eagles who plan on spending big. Also since we are a very financially sound franchise in a huge market, we will be in a great position to build a dynasty. I feel bad for smaller market teams less able or willing to spend. I think the disparity between the good organizations with money, stable coaching, and veteran leadership will really widen the gap from the smaller and cheaper teams with the way this seems to be heading.

  3. Soulman45 says: Jun 25, 2011 12:02 AM

    First to say fun time is on the way Lions get 2 LB’s that can cover and stop the run 2 CB’s that can cover and come up to help in the run game.

  4. jacksaysfu says: Jun 25, 2011 12:18 AM

    I just read a story by clayton @ espn.com talking about the top 5 and bottom 5 teams if every team has to spend all the cap . I still dont understand how a team like philly is in a better position to get FA’s then a team like cincy when cincy got 30Mill in cap room . If they all have to spend nearly 100% , wouldnt teams like tampa and cincy be in the best positions to get the marquee players ? Can someone explain this ? I dont get it .

  5. SpartaChris says: Jun 25, 2011 12:30 AM

    Economics 101, simple supply and demand. When the supply of free agents is low, their value increases. Since there’s going to be a flood of them hitting the market at one time, you’ll have an over-supply, which will likely drive down their value.

  6. revolution22 says: Jun 25, 2011 12:31 AM

    Teddy Thompson hasn’t been all that big on dipping into the Free Agent market, but I hope this year, he goes for one or two big time needs. Great draft helped us out alot, and filled gaps, but we could maybe use another CB for Woodson’s impending retirement. Maybe add a bit of depth at the saftey position, and another DE. Jenkins probably won’t be with us, Wilson is developing, Pickett isn’t getting any younger, and really…Justin Harrell? C’mon man!!

  7. MichaelEdits says: Jun 25, 2011 5:24 AM

    Is that a picture of your wallet?

  8. chatham10 says: Jun 25, 2011 7:46 AM

    The thing I like to watch with free agents are the ones who leave teams with a real shot at the Super Bowl to go with another team because of the money. I would go with the money also but the players always say ” I play to get a ring” and in some cases they cannot have it both ways.

  9. feloniusfarter says: Jun 25, 2011 7:50 AM

    The players made their bed, now lets see how they like sleeping in it.

  10. dd393 says: Jun 25, 2011 7:53 AM

    Building a team through free agency says that you don’t trust your own scouting staff.

  11. Derty Ernie says: Jun 25, 2011 9:45 AM

    Yes it will get interesting and yes I agree that with so many players available, a good handful will get big money, less good money but a lot of them will be disappointed. That’s the market.

  12. SpartaChris says: Jun 25, 2011 9:56 AM

    revolution22 says:
    Jun 25, 2011 12:31 AM
    Teddy Thompson hasn’t been all that big on dipping into the Free Agent market, but I hope this year, he goes for one or two big time needs. Great draft helped us out alot, and filled gaps, but we could maybe use another CB for Woodson’s impending retirement. Maybe add a bit of depth at the saftey position, and another DE. Jenkins probably won’t be with us, Wilson is developing, Pickett isn’t getting any younger, and really…Justin Harrell? C’mon man!!
    ===========================
    Spoken like someone who has no idea what they’re talking about.

    CJ Wilson, Howard Green, Ryan Pickett, Jarius Wynn and Mike Neal are the defensive ends we’ll still have on the roster. All got key playing time last season when Neal and Jenkins went down for injury, so we have actual veteran experience there too.

    The Packers do not need to sign any free agents. With 15 guys returning from IR plus 7 draft picks, that’s a ton of talent to pick and choose from.

  13. phillyisinvading says: Jun 25, 2011 10:51 AM

    @jacksaysfu
    I just read a story by clayton @ espn.com talking about the top 5 and bottom 5 teams if every team has to spend all the cap . I still dont understand how a team like philly is in a better position to get FA’s then a team like cincy when cincy got 30Mill in cap room . If they all have to spend nearly 100% , wouldnt teams like tampa and cincy be in the best positions to get the marquee players ? Can someone explain this ? I dont get it .

    —————————————————-

    You gotta be kidding us right? Why would ANY player WANT to go to Cincy? They dont even know who is going to be their quarterback. They have an owner that is a complete a$$. They are perennial losers. The eagles on the other hand are constant winners (still no championship…) but Andy Reid has them in the playoffs almost every year.

    So think about it…. if you had a chance to leave a losing team or crappy market team… WHY would you ever want to go to another losing team? Unless they pay you 100 mil like haynesworth… you wouldnt… MOST players want to play for a WINNER. that simple. They wanna go to Greenbay or NE or Pittsburg, or Philly. Those 4 teams sell out EVERY game and have some of the most passionate and dedicated fans around. CINCY? Tampa Bay? lol …

    also maby its just me… but I think a lot of guys admire the way Vick plays his game. I think they all wanna be on that team. Also the eagles have tons of cap space. they are not going to have problems signing anybody, and they are DEF going to be making a splash. they have to. Joe Banner & Howie Roseman cannot let the Phillies trump them this year with the Cliff Lee signing. the whole town is talking about the phils + flyers. if the eagles dont make a huge splash they wont get the coverage they deserve.

    in the end, its because we are perennial winners (of the regular season) … and no perennial losers with a crack head owner who doesnt know when to trade his players. they missed out on 2 FIRST round picks when they didnt trade 85 a few years back. stupidest decision ever.

  14. dontouchmyjunk says: Jun 25, 2011 11:32 AM

    @dd393

    There are college scouting staffs and there are pro scouting staffs. The most successful NFL teams use both to their fullest advantage.

    The NFL teams that lose are the ones that constantly go after the aging former superstars (read Washington). There are a lot of middle road NFL free agents that have proven they can contribute. This is the gold to be mined.

    Even the best college players, who grade well and have all the intangibles, can still fail (or at least fall short of expectation) at the NFL level. College scouting is far from an exact science, even today. How did Arian Foster go undrafted a couple of years ago yet Knowshon Moreno was a 1st rounder? Every coach and fan would have been thrilled if Moreno ended up on their team in 2009. Turns out they would have been more thrilled had they signed Foster after the draft.

  15. deljzc says: Jun 25, 2011 12:10 PM

    Don’t people realize the demand is just as high as the supply?

    Teams have HUGE voids in their rosters right now because so many of their players are UFA’s. Some teams literally have 10+ openings that can not be filled by rookies.

    And the lockout does make existing UFA’s more valuable than undrafted rookies, so that increases demand as well.

    This is a non-story and incorrect math.

    This off-season will just have more movement of players than normal, and supply and demand are both higher and cancel each other out on price.

  16. tommyf15 says: Jun 25, 2011 12:25 PM

    feloniusfarter says:
    The players made their bed, now lets see how they like sleeping in it.

    And a stitch in time saves nine.

  17. tangysizzl says: Jun 25, 2011 12:48 PM

    Ted Thompson will absolutely not be a player in the free agent market during the intial feeding frenzy. The only position I could see him make a big splash for would be left guard seeing as Daryn Colledge is a FA and most likely won’t be resigned.

    Even then we have a few options for that LG position already on the roster TJ Lang being the first one that comes to mind.

    I see him trying to resign a few of his own FAs like Mason Crosby and possibly James Jones. Other than that look for TT to try and sign some of the top undrafted FAs out there that other teams may overlook when trying to sign the big name veterans in the first days of FA.

    Why not sign 4 to 5 guys for less than the price it will cost to sign even a 2nd teir FA, one you can’t even be sure will make the roster coming out of training camp. The past has shown that some of the best players in the history of the game have come from the undrafted ranks. Go Pack.

  18. FinFan68 says: Jun 25, 2011 1:34 PM

    Maybe you could post lists of potential FA (add your usual speculation for who might want some of them) by position based on the likely rules rather than snooping around for another story about another degenerate with bills/law issues.

  19. bubbabart says: Jun 25, 2011 4:04 PM

    jacksaysfu….It’s “than”….not “then”….baby steps at first, K?

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