clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Free Agency Musings: Where is the NFL Going?

Because of the lack of "news", I'm looking at a different sort of issue with free agency.  This is not quite fleshed out in an academic sense, but rather a rough draft of some thoughts I'm having.

I'm worried about the state of the NFL.  The Salary cap is rising rapidly each year, therefore each team will have more money to keep their most talented players.  Ergo, only lesser-talented players will hit the market.

However, because of the rising cap, each team will have more money, so they can spend more on whatever lesser talented free agents hit the market.  Ergo, each player stands to make more money hitting free agency.

What happens when a real legitimate talent is having to decide beteween a contract extension and/or hitting the market?  What happens when Offensive Linemen like Johnathan Ogden see the numbers given to non-pro bowl linemen this year and he asks himself "why am I missing out on all this money?".

So, teams will be forced to compensate their star players even more to keep them from hitting free agency, and even when they DO let some players hit the market, the overall prices go higher because of the esclating cap.

Now, let's fast forward to 2010-2011.  Dallas and New York get their Giant Cowboy filled stadiums boost up revenues for the top teams.  Cap escalation continues.  How can Buffalo, Jacksonville, Green Bay, Carolina, Tennasee, afford to keep up with the biggest of the big boys?  Right now we criticize teams for not doing anything with their cap space because we know that they have the ability but choose to leave it wasted. (New England last year, Arizona thus far), I worry that in five or six years it will be a matter of an inability to spend the entire cap.  When Dan Snyder maxes out a possible 200 million dollar cap, he can afford it.  Can Jacksonville in only five years maximize revenues enough to keep up and be competitive in that enviornment?

The League has some pretty big issues to address (as they do every year) in their march meetings.  Wayne Weaver has been about as antatonistic as you can be in those meetings to ensure the rights and protections of the small market teams are embedded in a legitimate sharing plan.

The product that we love as NFL Fans only exists when each team is competitive.  It's the surprise of a team coming out of nowhere and winning that keeps each fan interested in every little action their team takes.  It's why the NFL combine gets such ratings, it's why the draft is obsessed over, it's why each free agent sigining is the sign of a new era for the signer.

But Free Agency with the combined effect of the escalating cap could bring a slow demise to the system that gives us such joy.  We don't have to suffer through the years and years and years of non-competitive teams like in Baseball.  We know that the worst team last year can go to the playoffs next year.   This must be protected.  How awful would it be if only the Giants, Redskins, Cowboys, Patriots, Jets, Texans (weirdly), and Chargers could afford to compete.  The rest of the league sits back and hopes to god that their team of draft picks can emerge before their contracts expire and they get bought out by the big guys.

Or maybe the only way for small-market teams to keep up would be by trading draft picks to the big guys for talent, and then only further hurt their development by not having the influx of fresh college players.

Anyhow, much of this is speculation, but something to think about.  I'd encourage any and all of you who read this to comment, register if you haven't and discuss this.  This is our league, we need to understand where it's going.