against the grain
From PFT (love 'em or hate 'em):
POSTED 9:15 a.m. EST, February 10, 2006
"SMALL POSSIBILITY" OF FREE AGENCY DELAY
Word is that a series of meetings between representatives of the NFL and the NFLPA has created progress toward an agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. We're told that these talks have given rise to a "small possibility" that the free agency signing period will be delayed this year from March 3 until early April.
The mere talk of bumping back the opening of free agency confirms that the recent efforts to iron out the issues between management and labor are aimed at getting a new deal in place before the annual shopping spree commences. As it now stands, signing boni can be spread over only four years, and any incentives earned in 2006 automatically count against the salary cap in 2006. This will make it harder for teams to add new players and, in turn, less lucrative for the players.
A new deal also would undoubtedly increase the salary cap for 2006, giving teams more money to spend on their rosters. This is good news for teams like the Redskins and Jets, who reportedly are facing some tough salary-trimming decisions under the current '06 cap.
But even if the free agency period is pushed back by a month, there still will be some intrigue come March. For example, Terrell Owens' contract must be terminated by the Eagles on or before March 5. So if the free agency launch is bumped to April and no new CBA is in place before Owens is released, he'll have to decide whether to take any offers that might be on the table under the current CBA -- or whether to wait until a new deal is in place.