NFL labor issues creating unusual free agency situation

Jun 22, 2011, 1:46 AM | Updated: 2:52 am

There is good news coming out of the Windy City and it has nothing to do with hot air. The owners seem relatively unified in approving a structure for the new CBA. Tuesday marks day ninety-eight of the lockout, the longest work stoppage in NFL history.

But if the owners and players, whom are scheduled to meet Wednesday and Thursday, can ratify the parameters of this deal we’ll have football on schedule with training camps going off without a hitch!

There are many interesting stipulations involved in this potential agreement but one of the more practical deals with free-agency in general and free-agents in particular.

Players that have four or more years of NFL experience and are not under contract will become unrestricted free-agents. There are certain “tags” or designations that may be retained but that information seems cloudy.

Depending on exactly when these stipulations are approved, this is going to create a free-for-all as teams scramble to sign free-agents. The timing and the lack of exposure to free-agents via offseason team activities (OTAs) will create a dynamic that has been around for some time but which takes on added import moving forward:

A bird in the hand will be better than two in the bush!

Teams are going to see their free-agents in a much more favorable light. Their free-agents are known commodities that know their terminology, system and policies. What may have been a question mark before or even unacceptable may suddenly not seem so bad to NFL front-office executives. Without all the OTA’s and mini-camps, coaches and general managers may not be able to count of unknown free-agents to improve their team.

And the players whom are free-agents will most likely be more willing to re-sign with their former employers than at any point in the league’s free-agent history. In most cases they know their coach, know the system, know the organization, know the competition and know where their kids will live and go to school!

Although the length of these contracts will most likely only include one or two-year deals, teams will covet what they know about players and what they can expect and players will probably reciprocate.

A new CBA may be days away and labor peace may return to the NFL. But when free-agents become available for courting, don’t expect a ton of movement.

Penguin Air

Ron Wolfley

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NFL labor issues creating unusual free agency situation