Free Agency: Predictions,Salary Cap status, and Good Info for Future Usage

Recent news on the CBA negotiations is very promising (no jinx), but provides no details either. I’m going to stretch a bit here and say that the new deal will include a modification to rookie salaries, as that’s one point both sides want included. There are reports that the sides did reach an agreement on the rookie scale before the lockout, which I’ll discuss further after the jump.

I’m going to make another stretch here and say that Smitty won’t be returning. Good, bad, or indifferent, it’s relevant to the Panthers’ salary cap position to the tune of $7.5 mil/year for two years. Tyler Brayton is due to receive $3.5 mil in 2011, which would be highway robbery IMO, so I think he’s gone as well.

The new deal could include special provisions for 2011 Free Agency, or it may go back to the ’09 basics. There’s no way to predict whether current players will be Unrestricted Free Agents with 4, 5, or 6 accrued years of service. I’m not sure which I would prefer: a relatively stagnant 6-year UFA requirement, or the feeding frenzy of 4 years. Whichever the case, relative to the vast majority of the league, the Panthers will be in excellent shape financially to take care of business if and when Free Agency begins.

A couple of predictions:


Prediction 1.  Rookie salaries - Reports were that the sides essentially had already worked out a framework as early as March.  Per Jason Cole,

According to two sources familiar with the negotiations, the league and the union have reached a basic compromise on a rookie wage scale that will replace the current rookie salary cap. The owners backed off the idea of requiring first-round picks to sign five-year deals, instead limiting the contracts to four years before a player could become a free agent. The agreement is also expected to include a stipulation limiting the amount of guaranteed money and signing bonus offered to draft picks.

In addition, the league agreed that all players drafted after the first round would be limited to three-year deals, but teams would be allowed to put restricted free agent tags after the three years. That’s essentially similar to the current process where players can be tagged as restricted free agents after a three-year deal, although the existing rule allows players drafted after the first round to sign four-year pacts.

Then in April, several news outlets reported that the League’s latest offer included cutting almost 60 percent of guaranteed pay for first-round draft picks, lock them in for five years and divert the savings to veteran salaries and benefits. The league's offer would free a total of more than $1.2 billion over four years through 2015 - $37.5 million per team overall - and slow the growth rate of guaranteed payments to first-rounders, which the documents show increased by 233 percent from 2000-10.  The compensation system would not include a rookie wage scale and would allow for individual contract negotiations. Contracts would have a fixed length of four years for players chosen in the second through seventh rounds and would not affect salaries for those rounds, the league said.

Of course, nothing is in stone, but the only dissenting opinions I’ve discovered thus far are coming from Player Agents, so I’m pretty sure there will be significant changes to rookie contracts in the new deal.

 

Prediction 2.  Free Agency - I predict that there will be a special provision allowing URFA status after 5 years accrued service for 2011. Dropping the level to 4 years, with the limited time frame for deals to be made, just seems to me to be way too disruptive. Some semblance of stability has to be instilled pre-training camp this year. The owner’s would probably prefer keeping it at 6, but I’m guessing they’ll have to compromise at 5 years.  If you accept my theory, Click here for 5-year players that could become URFAs.  If you believe instead that 4-Year players will be unrestricted, you can add these guys.   All of these players have 6 or more years and are therefore URFAs.


Prediction 3. There will be a salary cap and floor based on 
Owner/Player Revenue split, including the all-important Salary Cap number (which will be revenue-based).  I have no idea whether it will be closer to $120 mil or $150mil. 

The following table shows current 2011 salary commitments for all NFL teams. It does not include any restricted or unrestricted FAs or Franchise Taggees. That means, for instance, that Indy’s already high $115.5 million commitment doesn’t include whatever they decide to pay Peyton.

Team

$ (million)

 

Team

$ (million)

Tampa Bay

59.7

 

St. Louis

102.4

Carolina

73.0

 

Miami

103.1

Kansas City

74.7

 

Chicago

104.9

Jacksonville

78.1

 

New Orleans

105.2

Philadelphia

80.8

 

Tennessee

107.4

Seattle

81.1

 

Minnesota

108.4

Arizona

83.0

 

Detroit

113.8

Oakland

85.8

 

Washington

115.2

San Diego

85.8

 

Indianapolis

115.5

Cincinnati

90.7

 

Pittsburgh

116.0

Buffalo

96.4

 

Houston

118.4

Cleveland

99.2

 

Denver

125.0

San Francisco

100.9

 

New York Giants

126.3

Baltimore

101.3

 

New York Jets

128.5

Atlanta

102.1

 

Green Bay

129.8

New England

102.3

 

Dallas

136.6

 

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