The League

Doug Farrar

Doug Farrar

A staff writer

NFL has bigger fish to fry


Do-overs for draft-impaired teams?

Now that the Redskins have released approximately $30 million in unwanted contracts, one can certainly see them going hog-wild in free agency. The system is set up perfectly for teams like Washington and Chicago, who seem to prefer to do their drafting in free agency. New GM Bruce Allen was never shy about going after free agents at the expense of wise drafting in Tampa Bay, though that regime got smart as time went on and had a couple very good drafts before Allen was shown the door with Jon Gruden.

That's in theory. The problem in practice is that there isn't a huge number of premium free agents to grab. With the FA timeline going from four years to six, and a new set of restrictions in place for any team that wants to start throwing its wallet around, I see two other baseball-related concepts rearing their heads: The reserve clause, and collusion.

The reserve clause, which ruled for decades before free agency was made mandatory in the mid-70s, tied a player to his team in perpetuity at the team's behest. With all the restricted tenders placed on players in that new six-year bubble, there's a new group of NFL players who always expected free agency and now must play for their original teams at bargain prices.

With the specter of a lockout on the way, and the American Needle vs. NFL case setting possible antitrust immunity into effect, it's possible that the owners could break the union once and for all with the ability to act collectively to set a price in a supposedly free market. Dan Snyder may want to break the bank, but there are more worrisome forces at work here.

By Doug Farrar  |  March 5, 2010; 7:57 AM ET  | Category:  Doug Farrar , Free Agency , Washington Redskins Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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