This afternoon the players are reportedly going to vote into agreement the new CBA, which will begin the start of the most frantic free agent signing period the NFL (or any league for that matter) has ever seen. New deals won’t be official until after the union has re-formed, but according to reports teams can begin talking with free agents as soon as this afternoon.
But here are some numbers for you to think about. 24 teams are a combined $559 million dollars under the cap. And that’s before teams like Dallas and the Jets start shedding salary so they can be free agent players too. Now take a look at the free agents available. No question that some of the players at the top of the list are going to get big bucks, and deservedly so (I say that only in comparison to other football players of course), but with that much money to spend there is no question that some team is about to overpay big time for mediocre talent.
Teams like Tampa Bay (59.2) and Seattle (39) are mega millions away from the cap. The Cardinals (37.3), Bengals (35.9), Bears (37), Chiefs (34.3), Bills (35.9) and Browns (33.3) are right behind them.
That means a player like DE Charles Johnson is about to strike oil. Johnson replaced Julius Peppers in Carolina last year and had a great year. He is big, strong, quick…and young. That’s a pretty good combination in the NFL. But which Charles Johnson are teams going to be bidding on? The one that recorded 11.5 sacks last season? Or the one that recorded 4 the season previous, while Peppers was lining up opposite him? Buyer beware. Everyone wants defensive line help, and there are a limited amount of those free agents out there. Can you say bidding war?
Take a look at the defensive backs available. There are certainly a bunch listed. And it looks like every team is going to have to sign one or two. That’s good news for a guy like Eric Wright, whom the Browns may decide to let walk away without a fight. I’d say he may find a decent payday despite his struggles last season.
We will see over the next few days which GMs have been up late doing their homework. I don’t doubt for a second that Heckert and Holmgren have been putting in the hours necessary, what we don’t know is how quick they will be to throw money at some of these free agents. Heckert surprised many Cleveland fans last year by getting Scott Fujita to quite reasonable terms for a player with his talent and winning track record. Will they be able to pull the rabbit out of the hat for a second straight year?
My advice for Heckert? Take deep breaths. And remember the most important free agent you sign this year could be keeping Joe Thomas from becoming one next year.