A 21st uncapped year question

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.

9 responses to “A 21st uncapped year question

  1. Well, they could always sign him to a $50M bonus on a 100 year deal, pro-rated to $500K per year…

  2. ANOTHER BIG QUESTION: Could a Final Four Team do a sign and trade deal? Like Carolina signing Peppers and then trading them to the Vikings… I never hear about Sign & Trade deals in football, just other sports. Is it possible/legal?

  3. @lunds007
    according to the final eight plan:
    Section 7. Trade Limitation:No Club subject to the provisions of this Article may, for one League Year, trade for a player it otherwise would not be permitted to sign as an Unrestricted Free Agent as a result of the provisions in this Article.

  4. @ICDogg,
    Per the CBA – Proration. The total amount of any signing bonus shall be prorated over the term of the Player Contract (on a straight-line basis, unless subject to acceleration or some other treatment as provided in this Agreement), with a maximum proration of six years, in determining Team and
    Player Salary, except that: [omitted]
    you can only prorate signing bonuses over 6 years so youre scenario wouldn’t work.

  5. @shire,
    Thanks for that info.
    I wasn’t at all serious but it’s nice to know they’ve thought these things through.

  6. Ive wondered for a long time whether there are rules in place to prevent the following (not just in the NFL)
    I will use the Miami Heat as an example.
    What is preventing the Heat from signing a player to a contract below what he deserves (i.e. Wade for $15 Million a year) and then paying him an additional $10 Million a year via an endorsement from Carnival Cruise Lines (both the Heat and Carnival are owned by the same Person)
    This particular example may not work because I think Carnival is publicly traded, but you get my point. (Steelers and Heinz. Redskins and Fedex, Jets and J&J etc.)
    It may be easier to pull of for non superstars

  7. Tiz:
    it’s against the rules. Denver did this with Elway and there were some legal issues, and I believe that the 49’s did something like this in the 80’s when they were stockpiling talent, but got away with it.

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