Free agency launched 24 days ago. The class included 42 restricted free agents.
And not a single one has been signed to an offer sheet.
Previously, the thinking was that restricted free agents would get sniffs after the unrestricted market dried up. That thinking arises in part from the fact, in past years, that’s exactly what happened.
So what’s happening this year? With the maximum compensation now reduced from a first-round and third-round pick to only a first-round pick and with the “poison pill” device dead and with nine of the 42 RFA’s available with no compensation to the original team, it’s surprising that no offer sheets have been signed. In fact, there have been few if any visits by restricted free agents to prospective employers.
The development comes at a time when many believed that Steelers receiver Mike Wallace and Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb would have been targeted by teams picking in the bottom of round one. And while time remains for signing a player to an offer sheet, there’s no indication that it will happen.
Given the suspected prevalence of collusion in the uncapped year of 2010, when restricted free agency expanded to include players with four years and five years of service and only running back Mike Bell changed teams, and in light of the recent Redskins/Cowboys cap penalties that tend to confirm collusion in 2010, it’s hard not to at least wonder whether teams have decided, verbally and discreetly, not to pilfer players via restricted free agency.
I’m not saying that’s what has happened. But given that the teams were told, verbally and discreetly, not to take full advantage of the rules of the uncapped year in 2010, the rubber band already has been stretched that far. The question is whether the NFL currently is pulling both ends of it.