NFL Franchise Player Long-Term Deal Deadline on July 15th

The date of July 15th may just appear to be another slow stop on the long road to NFL training camps at the end of July.  But that date marks a significant event on the NFL’s “business” calendar, as it is the last day for “Franchised” players to sign a long-term deal with their teams.  If a franchised player is unable to workout a long-term deal by the end of July 15th then the player can only agree to play under the terms of their 1-year franchise deal for the upcoming NFL season (ex. Carolina Panthers DE Julius Peppers’ 1-year franchise deal is for approximately $16.7 Million).

Already as of July 14th, the Kansas City Chiefs locked-up franchised quarterback Matt Cassel by signing him to a multi-year contract extension. According to league sources, the 6-year deal is worth $63 million, with $28 million guaranteed.  The new deal is the second big jump in salary for Cassel, who played for basically for the first time since high school in 2008 when filled-in for injured teammate Tom Brady, in the last year. 

The former USC back-up quarterback already was scheduled to make $14.561 million for one year after he was designated as the New England Patriots’ franchise player in February.  But New England was soon off the hook to pay the former back-up as Cassel was traded to the Chiefs along with linebacker Mike Vrabel for a second-round draft choice during the 2009 NFL Draft.  Chiefs owner Clark Hunt said of the signing of his new franchise passer, “We are excited to be able to reach a long-term agreement for Matt Cassel to be a Kansas City Chief for many years to come, his proven leadership on and off the field will be a tremendous asset to the organization.”

You can definitely say that the whole being franchised experience has worked-out for Cassel, which seems to be a rarity in today’s NFL.  Though players will accept 1-year deals where they are paid on the level of the Top 5 players at their position, most often the loss of guaranteed money – the holy grail in the non-guaranteed contract world of the NFL – usually causes animosity between players, agents, and teams (see the case of the Eagles and former DT Corey Simon). 

Recently players and agents have become more creative in putting in contract incentives on their franchise 1-year deals that stipulate if a player reaches the agreed to incentive that the team cannot use the franchise tag in the following year and the player is free to negotiate with any team – former Patriots CB Asante Samuel moved to the Eagles under such an arrangement.

Let’s take a look at how the 14 players franchised during the Free Agency Period in February 2009 have fared so far.

LB Karlos Dansby, UFA Arizona Cardinals – signed 1-year franchise deal w/ terms for $9.678 million

LB Leroy Hill, Seattle Seahawks – was cut then re-signed by his former team w/ terms six years, $38 million

P Michael Koenen, Atlanta Falcons – signed 1-year franchise deal w/ terms for $2.483 million

TE Bo Scaife, Tennessee Titans – signed 1-year franchise deal w/ terms for $4.46 million

OT Max Starks, Pittsburgh Steelers — signed a long-term deal w/ terms four years, $25 million

S Oshiomogho “O.J” Atogwe, St Louis Rams – 

signed 1-year franchise deal w/ terms for $6.34 million

WR Antonio Bryant, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – signed 1-year franchise deal w/ terms for $9.884 million

QB Matt Cassel, NE Patriots – traded to KC then signed a long-term deal w/ terms six years, $63 million

K Shayne Graham, Cincinnati Bengals – signed 1-year franchise deal w/ terms for $2.483 million

RB Brandon Jacobs, New York Giants — signed a long-term deal w/ terms four years, $25 million

DL Julius Peppers, Carolina Panthers – signed 1-year franchise deal w/ terms for $16.7 million

CB Dunta Robinson, Houston Texans – Has not signed his 1-year franchise deal, possible holdout

RB Darren Sproles, San Diego Chargers – signed 1-year franchise deal w/ terms for $6.621 million

OLB/DE Terrell Suggs, Baltimore Ravens – signed a long-term deal w/ terms six years, $38 million guaranteed

Hopefully the only franchised player Texans CB Dunta Robinson, who has yet to sign any contract, will not holdout into training camp.  Holdouts are not good for anyone from the team to fans to the player himself and they sometimes can derail a career – see QB Akilli Smith, QB Ryan Leaf, and RB Larry Johnson. 

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

Advertisements

Top Available Free Agents for 2009 NFL Training Camps

With training camps set to open in late July there are still some quality players looking for work.  Unfortunately for most of the players currently not on NFL rosters, there seems to be distinct reasons (off the field issues, age, injuries, etc) why NFL teams are taking a wait and see view toward them.  Maybe some of the free agents will have to go the route of the UFL to get back into pro football, but we know injuries are a huge factor in the NFL.  It is only a matter of time before some unfortunate players go down in training camp and preseason which will necessitate some of the free agent players listed getting a call.

In studying this list there was one trend that I tended to see.  Despite an increasing salary cap — 2009 salary cap set for $127 million per team, which is $10.3 million higher than last year’s figure of $116.7 Million – and league CBA mandated cap relief for signing older players (Seven to Nine Year Veteran – $720,000 but only counts around $445, 000 on the salary cap), the National Football League outside of specialists (kickers, punters, and long snappers) continues to become a young players’ league.  Lately at cut time, NFL teams would rather keep a younger “developing” player around while telling a veteran (over 6 years in the league), “We don’t need you anymore.”  NFL head coaches in trying to fill, a too small in my opinion, 53-player roster seem to believe they can “coach-up” a younger player while they learn on special-teams rather then keeping an older guy who will only be able to contribute on about 20 or less snaps a game.  In looking at the rosters of the two Super Bowl XLII teams, the average ages on each squad was right around 27 years old with the Steelers having only five players over age 33 including their punter (Mitch Berger, 36) and conversely the Cardinals having even less with only four players over that mark.

Future Hall of Famer and former Pro Bowl defensive tackle Warren Sapp recently said of NFL veteran’s dilemma, “It’s not the same for the veterans anymore. The NFL doesn’t need us. In this NFL, the old vets don’t factor in”.  You hate to see a once quality veteran player trying to hang-on for one more season, but some of the older players on this list still can be a valuable resource to a team.  Nothing can replace the knowledge and leadership that some of these older players bring especially when most NFL lockerrooms are now filled with former college underclassmen.  Older players are “reliable” and are usually students of the game, just ask the Arizona Cardinals how glad they were when they had veteran quarterback Kurt Warner on their roster when 2006 first rounder Matt Leinhart imploded.  Warner, age 37, produced a season for the ages throwing for numbers 401-598, 4583 yards, and 30 TDs while leading the NFC West Champion Cardinal to their first Super Bowl.

LB Derrick Brooks, formerly of Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Hard to believe after 11 Pro Bowls, being named All-Pro six times, winning one Super Bowl (XXXVII ) and being named Defensive Player of the Year in 2002, that the former Tampa Bay Bucs linebacker cannot find a job.  Brooks has said “I committed myself to playing one more year”, so all he needs now is an opportunity to return for his 15th season.  Of course at age 36, Brooks is not the same tacking terror that led Tony Dungy’s vaunted defense but his leadership and savvy are immeasurable.  The former Florida State star is completely healed from a hamstring injury that dogged him in 2008 and I believe in the right system, he can reproduce his ’07 numbers of 84 tackles and 3 forced fumbles in 16 starts.  Maybe a team running the Tampa 2 defense (Colts or Bears) or a 3-4 team looking for a solid leader (Patriots) will give him a call before he makes his way to Canton.

WR Marvin Harrison, formerly of Indianapolis Colts – Another Canton bound player, who I believe can still get it done in the NFL.  It is surprising to me that other veteran receivers Torry Holt (Jags) and Joey Galloway (Patriots) found homes before Harrison.  The issue of an alleged gun discharge in Philly went away and Harrison even at age 36 is one of the best route runners in the NFL.  Despite battling through injuries and not looking like his old Pro Bowl self at times in 2008, the former 8-time Pro Bowl player 60 catches for 636 yards (10.6 ypc) and 5 TDs.  Though no longer a number one receiver, Harrison could help move the chains on 3rd downs and help teach younger players.  I think he has at least two more years left in him to build on his impressive career numbers (1102 receptions for 14580 yards, 13.2 ypc and 128 TDs).  Look for one of the myriad of teams looking for a receiver (Vikings, Bears, Titans, Jets, Steelers and Ravens) to bring Peyton’s former main man in for a look.

RB Edgerrin James, formerly of Arizona Cardinals – This maybe a tough sell as the NFL is definitely “Not For Long” for running backs over thirty years old, even if they are the 11th All-time rusher in NFL History (12,121 yards).  The 4-time Pro Bowl player will be 31 in August and has 2982 carries on his odometer plus the Cardinals clearly pushed him to the background in ’08.  However when given opportunities, James showed flashes like in Week 17 (100-yard effort on 14 carries) and in the 2008 NFL Playoffs. The former back-to-back rushing title king (1999 and 2000) only rushed for 514 yards last season with a pedestrian average of 3.9 yards per rush.  However I still expect to see the ten-year veteran’s name called when another running back inevitably goes down. I was already surprised when the Eagles didn’t call when RB Brian Westbrook had ankle surgery.

OT Levi Jones, Cincinnati Benglas – When the Bengals drafted Alabama All-American offensive tackle Andre Smith in the first round, it spelled doom for Jones (6’5, 310).  After missing parts of the last three seasons and a high price tag (due to earn a base salary of $3 million this year), Jones was a goner.  Surprisingly after being set free from the strange world of the Bengals, Jones has taken his time in signing with another team.  I guess the stout tackle, who was once viewed as a cornerstone lineman, wants to see what opportunities will arise in training camp.  I also believe like most veterans, Jones wants no parts of two-a-days in the hot training camp sun.  With his long arms and good feet expect to see this 30-year old by the start of the season on someone’s roster real soon.  Hopefully to keep his image clean before signing, Jones will go the other way if he sees Dolphins LB Joey Porter and his boys in the casino again.

WR Matt Jones, formerly of Jacksonville Jaguars – This former 1st rd pick by the Jaguars in 2005 has never lived up to all of the “Freak” talk bantered around when he was drafted.  Jones has been an enigma during his short NFL career as has shown flashes of athleticism while not showing maturity off the field and having run-ins with members of the Jaguars coaching staff.  Jones (6-6, 240), was also arrested on July 10, 2008 for drug possession and eventually had his case sent to drug court with the NFL suspending him for 3 games at the end if the 2008 season.  Despite missing three games, Jones established a career-high for catches with 65 receptions for 761 yards ( 11.7 ypc) and 2 TDs.  However on March 9th, Jones was arrested for violating his probation due to drinking alcohol and the Jaguars cut ties with him March 14th.  Many have pointed to Jones as a player that just doesn’t get it, but at only 26 years old there may still be a team willing to bring him in.  It will be interesting to see if injuries cause any of the current receiver depleted teams to call Jones.

OT Jon Runyan, formerly of Philadelphia Eagles – Probably one of the toughest players I have ever seen.  This 13-year veteran is there every Sunday no matter what – 190 consecutive regular season games started. Runyan is a tough player, who will battle to the whistle and beyond sometimes.  There is nothing finesse about Big Jon as his nasty demeanor helps him maul opponents.  Unfortunately after playing through the pain for so long, Runyan’s body seems to be showing wear and tear.  Runyan had to have microfracture surgery on his right knee so no one is sure where he stands.  My prediction is if he can comeback healthy that some team looking for a versatile veteran on the offensive line will come calling.  By the way , even though the Eagles have several quality young offensive lineman they still have Runyan’s stall in their lockerroom.

DL Anthony Weaver, formerly of Houston Texans – This former 2nd Rd pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 2002 is a stout two way defensive end who has experience in the 4-3 and 3-4.  Though he is not a sack type pass rusher (only 15.5 career sacks), Weaver is a strong at the point of attack defensive lineman that excels at stopping the run.  At age 28 and with so many teams utilizing more defensive linemen rotations, I expect someone to give the former Notre Dame star a look.  Weaver started 16 games in ’08 for the Texans and even had an interception.

WR Plaxico Burress, formerly of NY Giants – Now that Burress’ gun case from November 2008 has been adjourned until September 23, 2009 there is speculation that some teams (Bears, Bucs, Ravens, and Jets) will take a look at the Giants former Super Bowl XLII hero. Though his actions caused the Giants’ 2008 season to go awry there is no doubt that Burress 6’6 frame gives smaller defensive backs fits.  In limited action, Plaxico had 35 catches for 454 yards and 4 touchdowns. But this big and athletic playmaker will need to show that he has growm up on and off the field.  There have been rumors that the Giants kept quiet on a lot of the problems that Burress caused, so I know teams looking to sign him will be doing their homework.  Even though there has been an adjournement eventually Burress will have to face the legal process in a trial or plea deal and then there is the little matter of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell possibly suspending him.  There is no doubt if Burress can get his legal issues straight that he will be at the top of the free agent receiver list.

QB Michael Vick, formerly of Atlanta Falcons – After the Falcons recently released Vick, he could officially sign with any NFL team.  Of course no team is probably going to sign Vick until Goodell reinstates him from his indefinite suspension stemming from his federal dogfighting case.  Vick will leave federal custody on July 20th and he will then have to meet with Goodell.  Let’s say that Goodell reinstates Vick with a 4-game or less suspension, at that time I believe there will be at least four teams (Rams, Cowboys, Raiders, and Jaguars) entering the race for the former Falcons star quarterback.  I know there are issues around protests, but I believe this man has been persecuted enough, so let him be.  As for those who believe that the 29-year old is done in the NFL…C’mon also-rans like SF 49ers Damon Huard, Bears Brett Basanez , Bengals JT O’Sullivan, Chargers Charlie Whitehurst, and others have jobs in the NFL.  Even after not throwing an NFL pass since December 2006, Vick is still a much better player  than those quarterbacks and others too — career passing numbers of 930-1730, 11505 yards, 71 TDs, 52 INTs, and a 75.7 rating in six years w/ the Falcons.  I know some NFL offensive coordinators cannot wait to get their hands on a player with Vick’s mobility in multiple offensive sets including the Wildcat — established quarterback records of 1039 rushing yards and an 8.4 ypr average in 2006.  After his release expect Vick to work with his former high school coach Tommy Reamon and his son Tommy Reamon Jr (Old Dominion QB) to get back into NFL shape.

DE Travis LaBoy, formerly of Arizona Cardinals –  It is only a matter of time before this 27-year old pass rusher is picked up.  LaBoy can play as a 3-4 outside linebacker or a hand-in-the-dirt 4-3 defensive end.  When healthy, this former  2nd Rd pick by the Titans in 2004 from Hawaii terrorizes quarterbacks playing with get speed.  Right now the former Cardinals high-motor end is recovering from torn biceps surgery earlier this offseason.  Laboy (6-4, 250) was released on April 2009 by Cardinals, but his ability to rush the passer — 23.5 career sacks with four sacks in ’08 — will find him a new home. Even if there are not any injuries in camp, expect the Packers, Patriots, and possibly the Niners to take a look at Laboy.

Other Free Agents

QB Cleo Lemon, Jacksonville Jaguars

QB J.P. Losman, Buffalo Bills

QB Marques Tuiasosopo, Oakland Raiders

RB J.J. Arrington, Denver Broncos 

RB Ron Dayne, Houston Texans

RB Reuben Droughns, NY Giants

RB Warrick Dunn, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

RB DeShaun Foster, San Francisco 49ers

RB Ahmad Green, Houston Texans

RB Rudi Johnson, Detroit

RB Deuce McAllister, New Orleans Saints

RB Chris Perry, Cincinnati Bengals

WR Drew Bennett, St. Louis Rams

WR Marty Booker, Chicago Bears

WR Joe Jurevicius, Cleveland Browns

WR Jerry Porter, Jacksonville Jaguars

WR Amani Toomer, New York Giants

WR Reggie Williams, Jacksonville Jaguars

WR/TE/H-Back Mike Williams, Tennessee Titans

OL Kwame Harris, Oakland Raiders

OL Edwin Mulitalo, Detroit Lions

DL DeWayne Robertson, Denver Broncos

LB Donnie Edwards, Kansas City Chiefs

LB Kalimba Edwards, Oakland Raiders

LB Morlon Greenwood, Houston Texans

LB Willie McGinest, Cleveland Browns

LB/ST Gary Stills, St. Louis Rams

DB Adam “Pacman” Jones, Dallas Cowboys

DB Sammy Knight, NY Giants

DB Ty Law, New York Jets

DB Sam Madison, NY Giants

DB Ricky Manning, Tennessee Titans

DB Chris McAlister, Baltimore Ravens

DB Lawyer Milloy, Atlanta Falcons

DB Dwight Smith, Detroit Lions

CB Patrick Surtain, Kansas City Chiefs

DB Jimmy Williams, Houston Texans

PK Matt Stover, Baltimore Ravens

 

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

2009 Free Agency Review

(Philadelphia, Pa) – Free Agency comes in like a quick storm at 12:01 AM on the first day and it soon slows down about a week later.  With March 4th marking the ending of the first week of Free Agency, I thought it was a good time to take a look back at the initial feeding frenzy around the NFL. 

Remember there is still a long way to go before training camps open in July so teams have plenty of time to reshape their rosters.  But I am a firm believer in using the NFL Draft to build a team.  Having a nucleus of homegrown talent fortified by draft picks builds cohesion, which is essential in building perennial winners.  Too often history has shown too many new free agents is usually not the best way of catching up with the rest of the league.

 Best Signing

St. Louis Rams C/G Jason Brown — The St. Louis Rams signing of versatile center/guard Jason Brown from the Ravens showed that new head coach Steve Spagnuolo was looking for a cornerstone player and he got one.  Coming off a stellar 2008 season, Brown wanted to be paid as if he was one of the NFL’s top centers and he was by the Rams. Brown signed a five-year, $37.5 million (w/ $20 million guaranteed) contract. The Rams beat the Ravens and Eagles to the punch for one of the NFL’s ascending interior lineman, who barely missed out on the Pro Bowl in ’08.  The Rams offensive line got a much-needed boost and often-injured quarterback Marc Bulger should be feeling better.

Honorable Mention:  Cardinals re-signing QB Kurt Warner, Jets signing LB Bart Scott from the Ravens, and Washington Redskins signing DT Albert Haynesworth

Worst Signing

Washington Redskins CB DeAngelo Hall – I know that Redskins owner Dan Snyder puts his checkbook where his mouth is, but he went overboard signing inconsistent DeAngelo Hall to a six year, $55 million deal ($23 million guaranteed) when there was really no clamoring for the talkative corner was unnecessary.  If you remember back in November of 2008, Hall who had been traded to the Raiders –signed seven-year, $70 million contract with $24.5 million guaranteed — was released by the Oakland after “he failed to adapt to the Raiders’ man-to-man style of defense.  Hall was regularly beaten and was known to be a malcontent in the locker-room.  Hopefully the Redskins get more out of him than $8 million ($7 million signing bonus and $1 million in base salary) for eight games that the Raiders got.

Winners

Denver Broncos – New head coach Josh McDaniels is going about building his team in free agency as the Broncos signed 8 players and counting.  Among the top-level players relocating to the Rockies were S Brian Dawkins (Eagles), RB Correll Buckhalter (Philadelphia), RB JJ Arrington (Arizona), RB LaMont Jordan (Patriots), WR Jabbar Gaffney (New England), S Renaldo Hill (Miami), LS Lonie Paxton (New England), DT Darrell Reid (Indianapolis), CB Andre Goodman (Miami), DT Ronald Fields (San Francisco) and LB Andra Davis (Browns).  I like the signing of Dawkins, as he will bring leadership to a young team and coach.  Now McDaniels will need to soothe quarterback Jay Cutler’s ego as his star learned he was almost out of town for Matt Cassel.

Kansas City Chiefs — The Chiefs boosted their roster by adding 2008 wonder quarterback Matt Cassel for the value price of a 2nd round pick going to New England.  Chiefs new GM Scott Pioli knew that the Chiefs needed a signal-caller, so he called his old buddy Bill Belichick and got the Patriots “franchised” quarterback.  Cassel should work well with young receiver Dwayne Bowe plus boost the spirits of malcontent tight end Tony Gonzalez.  The Chiefs also brought in veteran LB Mike Vrabel (traded for a conditional pick) to teach the “Patriot” way to a young locker-room.

New York Jets — New head coach Rex Ryan waited in the driveway of prized linebacker Bart Scott to get a deal done.  Ryan knew Scott well from their days with the Ravens and now Scott, who was six years younger than veteran LB Ray Lewis, will bring his swagger to the Big Apple.  Scott was also joined by another former Ravens teammate, safety Jim Leonhard.  The hard working Leonhard replace injured starter Dawan Landry well in Baltimore and did a great job returning kicks.  Leonhard will join existing Jets starter Kerry Rhodes to form a tough combo for Ryan’s new attacking defense. The Jets also acquired CB Lito Sheppard from the Eagles for a 5th Rd pick and he should be rejuvenated playing next to Pro Bowl corner Darrell Revis.

New York Giants – Proving you can never have enough defense, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin brought in more disruptors.  The G-Men signed Cowboys DE Chris Canty, Seahawks DT Rocky Bernard and Falcons LB Michael Boley to go with Umenyiora, Tuck, Kiwanuka, Robbins and rest of the gang.

Losers

Baltimore Ravens – Got leader LB Ray Lewis back and signed veteran center Matt Birk, but they have a lot of holes to fill with the loss of Scott, Brown, and Leonhard.  Also I am not sure if corner Dominique Foxworth is physical enough to replace departed corner Chris McAllister.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Entered free agency with the most under the cap in the NFL ($41 Million under) and visions of signing Albert Haynesworth, but all they have to show for it so far is RB Derrick Ward (NY Giants) and K Mike Nugent (Jets).  They also spent a lot on signing underachievers QB Luke McCown, WR Michael Clayton, and DT Ryan Simms.  It will be real interesting to see how franchised WR Antonio Bryant and recently traded for TE Kellen Winslow (Browns) get along.

Philadelphia Eagles – The Birds have let go of too many quality veterans this off-season in RB Correll Buckhalter, S Brian Dawkins, and OT Tra Thomas when the younger players at their positions may not be ready to step up.  However I did like signing veteran right tackle Stacy Andrews (right guard Shawn Andrews’ older bro) to replace broken-down warrior Jon Runyan.

 Best Available 

1. QB Byron Leftwich – This big (6’6) passer has the arm and smarts to still be a starter in the NFL.  If he doesn’t receive a good offer soon look for him to go back to being a backup in Pittsburgh.

2. OT Tra Thomas – Even at age 34, Thomas still is a quality left tackle in the NFL.  He only allowed 2 sacks in 2008 and this former Pro Bowl player is an excellent pass blocker.

3. DE Demetric Evans — A versatile two-way end, who can rush the passer and hold his ground on running plays.

4. LB Kevin Burnett – Came on strong for Dallas at the end of the 2008 season.  Very good in the nickel and on special teams plus can get after the quarterback on blitzes.

5. FB Leonard Weaver – Great hands, Solid Blocker, and is good in short yardage.  Probably would still be in Seattle if Mike Holmgren stuck around.

Others: OT Mark Tauscher QB Chris Simms, RB Kevin Jones, WR Ronald Curry, DT Igor Olshansky, S Sean Jones,

Hoping for a Chance in Training Camp

WR Terrell Owens, S Mike Brown, LB Willie McGinest, QB JT O’Sullivan, QB Jeff Garcia, RB Ahmad Green, TE Darnell Dinkins, LB Mike Peterson, CB Adam Jones, CB Duane Starks, S Lawyer Milloy, and K John Kasay

Status of 2009 Notable Free Agents

 Quarterbacks

Kyle Boller, UFA Baltimore Ravens  (Unsigned as of 3/3)

**Matt Cassel, UFA New England Patriots (Traded to Chiefs for a 2nd Rounder, #34)

Kerry Collins, UFA Tennessee Titans  (Re-Signed w/ Titans)

Jeff Garcia, UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers  (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Rex Grossman, UFA Chicago Bears  (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Byron Leftwich, UFA Pittsburgh Steelers  (Unsigned as of 3/3)

J.P. Losman, UFA Buffalo Bills  (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Dan Orlovsky, UFA Detroit Lions (Signed w/ Texans)

JT O’Sullivan, UFA San Francisco 49ers (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Chris Simms, UFA Tennessee Titans  (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Kurt Warner, UFA Arizona Cardinals  (Re-Signed w/ Cardinals)

Running Backs

J.J. Arrington, UFA Arizona Cardinals (Signed w/ Broncos)

Tatum Bell, UFA Denver Broncos (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Cedric Benson, UFA Cincinnati Bengals  (Re-Signed w/ Bengals)

Correll Buckhalter, UFA Philadelphia Eagles (Signed w/ Broncos)

Warrick Dunn, UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Unsigned as of 3/3)

DeShaun Foster, UFA San Francisco 49ers (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Ahmad Green, UFA Houston Texans (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Brandon Jacobs, UFA New York Giants (Re-Signed w/ Giants)

Edgerrin James, UFA Arizona Cardinals  (expected to be released)

Rudi Johnson, UFA Detroit Lions (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Kevin Jones, UFA Chicago Bears (Unsigned as of 3/3)

LaMont Jordan, UFA New England Patriots (Signed w/ Broncos)

Deuce McAllister, UFA New Orleans Saints (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Chris Perry, UFA Cincinnati Bengals (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Dominic Rhodes, UFA Indianapolis Colts (Unsigned as of 3/3)

**Darren Sproles, UFA San Diego Chargers (Franchised)

Fred Taylor, UFA Jacksonville Jaguars (Signed w/ Patriots)

Derrick Ward, UFA New York Giants  (Signed w/ Buccaneers)

Fullbacks

Heath Evans, UFA New England Patriots  (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Lorenzo Neal, UFA Baltimore Ravens  (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Tony Richardson, UFA New York Jets  (Re-Signed w/ Jets)

Leonard Weaver, UFA Seattle Seahawks  (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Wide Receivers

Miles Austin, RFA Dallas Cowboys  (Tendered by Cowboys)

Hank Baskett, RFA Philadelphia Eagles (Tendered by Eagles)

Drew Bennett, UFA St. Louis Rams (Unsigned as of 3/3)

**Antonio Bryant, UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Franchised)

Michael Clayton, UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers  (Re-Signed w/ Bucs)

Ronald Curry, UFA Oakland Raiders (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Jabar Gaffney, UFA New England Patriots (Signed w/ Broncos)

Joey Galloway, UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Marvin Harrison, UFA Indianapolis Colts (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Devery Henderson, UFA New Orleans Saints (Re-Signed w/ Saints)

T.J. Houshmandzadeh, UFA Cincinnati Bengals (Signed w/ Seahawks)

Michael Jenkins, UFA Atlanta Falcons (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Bryant Johnson, UFA San Francisco 49ers (Signed w/ Lions)  

Brandon Jones, UFA Tennessee Titans (Signed w/ SF 49ers) 

Brandon Lloyd, UFA Chicago Bears (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Dane Looker, UFA St. Louis Rams (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Justin McCareins, UFA Tennessee Titans (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Shaun McDonald, UFA Detroit Lions (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Lance Moore, RFA New Orleans Saints (Tendered by Saints)

Terrell Owens, UFA Dallas Cowboys (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Jerry Porter, UFA Jacksonville Jaguars (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Amani Toomer, UFA New York Giants (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Javon Walker, UFA Oakland Raiders (Re-Signed w/ Raiders)

Nate Washington, UFA Pittsburgh Steelers (Signed w/ Titans)  

Reggie Williams, UFA Jacksonville Jaguars (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Tight Ends

Mark Bruener, UFA Houston Texans (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Dominique Byrd, RFA St. Louis Rams (Tendered by Rams)

Desmond Clark, UFA Chicago Bears (Unsigned as of 3/3) 

Tony Curtis, RFA Dallas Cowboys (Tendered by Cowboys)

Owen Daniels, UFA Houston Texans (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Darnell Dinkins, UFA Cleveland Browns (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Bubba Franks, UFA New York Jets (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Jeff King, RFA Carolina Panthers (Tendered by Panthers)

Jim Kleinsasser, UFA Minnesota Vikings (Re-Signed w/ Vikings) 

Ben Patrick, RFA Arizona Cardinals (Tendered by Cardinals)

Leonard Pope, RFA Arizona Cardinals (Tendered by Cardinals)

**Bo Scaife, UFA Tennessee Titans (Franchised)

L.J. Smith, UFA Philadelphia Eagles (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Jerramy Stevens, UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Daniel Wilcox, UFA Baltimore Ravens (Unsigned as of 3/3) 

Offensive Line

OT Stacy Andrews, UFA Cincinnati Bengals (Signed w/ Eagles)

OT Khalif Barnes, UFA Jacksonville Jaguars (Unsigned as of 3/3)

C Matt Birk, UFA Minnesota Vikings (Signed w/ Ravens) 

C Jason Brown, UFA Baltimore Ravens (Signed w/ Rams)  

C/G Nick Cole, RFA Philadelphia Eagles (Tendered by Eagles)

OT Marc Colombo, UFA Dallas Cowboys (Unsigned as of 3/3) 

OT Willie Colon, RFA Pittsburgh Steelers (Tendered – 1st Rd by Steelers) 

OG Jahri Evans, RFA New Orleans Saints (Tendered by Saints)

OT George Foster, UFA Detroit Lions (Unsigned as of 3/3) 

C Melvin Fowler, UFA Buffalo Bills (Unsigned as of 3/3)  

OG Pete Kendall, UFA Washington Redskins (Unsigned as of 3/3) 

OG Richie Incognito, RFA St. Louis Rams (Tendered low by Rams) 

OG Seth McKinney, UFA Cleveland Browns (Unsigned as of 3/3)   

OT Jon Runyan, UFA Philadelphia Eagles (Unsigned as of 3/3)    

C Jeff Saturday, UFA Indianapolis Colts (Re-Signed w/ Colts) 

OT Marvel Smith, UFA Pittsburgh Steelers (Unsigned as of 3/3)     

**OT Max Starks, UFA Pittsburgh Steelers (Franchised)

OT Jon Stinchcomb, UFA New Orleans Saints (Re-Signed w/ Saints) 

OT Mark Tauscher, UFA Green Bay Packers (Unsigned as of 3/3)      

OT Tra Thomas, UFA Philadelphia Eagles  (Unsigned as of 3/3)    

C Ben Wilkerson, UFA Atlanta Falcons  (Unsigned as of 3/3)     

Defensive Line

Victor Adeyanju, RFA St. Louis Rams (Tendered low by Rams)

Rocky Bernard, UFA Seattle Seahawks (Signed w/ Giants)

Bertrand Berry, UFA Arizona Cardinals (Unsigned as of 3/3)   

Demetric Evans, UFA Washington Redskins (Unsigned as of 3/3)   

Chris Canty, UFA Dallas Cowboys (Signed w/ Giants)

Tommie Harris, UFA Chicago Bears (Unsigned as of 3/3)   

Albert Haynesworth, UFA Tennessee Titans (Signed w/ Redskins)    

Tank Johnson, UFA Dallas Cowboys (Unsigned as of 3/3)    

Stanley McClover, RFA Carolina Panthers (Tendered by Panthers)

Jerome McDougle, UFA New York Giants (Unsigned as of 3/3)    

Igor Olshansky, UFA San Diego Chargers (Unsigned as of 3/3)    

**Julius Peppers, UFA Carolina Panthers (Franchised) 

Kenny Peterson, UFA Denver Broncos (Unsigned as of 3/3)     

DeWayne Robertson, UFA Denver Broncos (Unsigned as of 3/3)     

Antonio Smith, UFA Arizona Cardinals (Signed w/ Texans)

**Terrell Suggs, UFA Baltimore Ravens (Franchised) 

Jason Taylor, UFA Washington Redskins (Unsigned as of 3/3)

John Thornton, UFA Cincinnati Bengals (Unsigned as of 3/3)     

Gabe Watson, RFA Arizona Cardinals (Tendered by Cardinals) 

Linebackers

Eric Barton, UFA New York Jets (Unsigned as of 3/3)    

Monty Beisel, UFA Arizona Cardinals (Unsigned as of 3/3)      

Michael Boley, UFA Atlanta Falcons (Signed w/ Giants)

Keith Brooking, UFA Atlanta Falcons (Signed w/ Cowboys)

Derrick Brooks, UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Unsigned as of 3/3)    

**Karlos Dansby, UFA Arizona Cardinals (Franchised)

Andra Davis, UFA Cleveland Browns (Signed w/ Broncos)

Kalimba Edwards, UFA Oakland Raiders (Unsigned as of 3/3)   

James Farrior, UFA Pittsburgh Steelers (Unsigned as of 3/3)      

Tyjuan Hagler, UFA Indianapolis Colts (Unsigned as of 3/3)     

**Leroy Hill, UFA Seattle Seahawks (Franchised)

Napoleon Harrison, UFA Minnesota Vikings (Unsigned as of 3/3)     

Larry Izzo, UFA New England Patriots (Unsigned as of 3/3)       

D.D. Lewis, UFA Seattle Seahawks (Unsigned as of 3/3)     

Ray Lewis, UFA Baltimore Ravens (Re-Signed w/ Ravens)

Willie McGinest, UFA Cleveland Browns (Unsigned as of 3/3)     

Quentin Moses, ERFA Miami Dolphins (Tendered by Dolphins)

Mike Peterson, UFA Jacksonville Jaguars (Unsigned as of 3/3)     

Junior Seau, UFA New England Patriots (Unsigned as of 3/3)     

Bart Scott, UFA Baltimore Ravens (Signed by Jets) 

Zach Thomas, UFA Dallas Cowboys (Unsigned as of 3/3)       

Jonathan Vilma, UFA New Orleans Saints (Re-Signed w/ Saints)

Nate Webster, UFA Denver Broncos (Unsigned as of 3/3)      

Cornerbacks

CB Phillip Buchanon, UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Unsigned as of 3/3)    

CB/KR Chris Carr, UFA Tennessee Titans (Unsigned as of 3/3)   

CB Cortland Finnegan, RFA Tennessee Titans (Tendered High by Titans) 

CB Domonique Foxworth, UFA Atlanta Falcons (Signed w/ Ravens)

CB Chris Gamble, UFA Carolina Panthers  (Re-Signed w/ Panthers)

CB Andre’ Goodman, UFA Miami Dolphins (Signed w/ Broncos)

CB Charles Gordon, RFA Minnesota Vikings  (Tendered by Vikings)

CB Jabari Greer, UFA Buffalo Bills (Signed w/ Saints) 

CB DeAngelo Hall, UFA Washington Redskins (Re-Signed w/ Redskins)

CB Joselio Hanson, RFA Philadelphia Eagles (Re-Signed w/ Eagles)

CB Corey Ivy, UFA Baltimore Ravens (Unsigned as of 3/3)   

CB Adam “Pacman” Jones, UFA Dallas Cowboys (Unsigned as of 3/3)    

CB Eric King, UFA Tennessee Titans  (Signed w/ Lions)

CB Ty Law, UFA New York Jets (Unsigned as of 3/3)   

CB Bryant McFadden, UFA Pittsburgh Steelers (Unsigned as of 3/3)      

CB R.W. McQuarters, UFA New York Giants (Unsigned as of 3/3)   

CB Justin Miller, UFA Oakland Raiders (Unsigned as of 3/3)     

CB Deltha O’Neil, UFA New England Patriots (Unsigned as of 3/3)    

**CB Dunta Robinson, UFA Houston Texans (Franchised)

CB/KR Allen Rossum, UFA San Francisco 49ers (Unsigned as of 3/3)      

CB Duane Starks, UFA Oakland Raiders (Unsigned as of 3/3)    

Safeties

FS Mike Adams, UFA Cleveland Browns (Unsigned as of 3/3) 

FS Will Allen, UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Unsigned as of 3/3)  

**FS Oshiomogho “O.J” Atogwe, UFA St Louis Rams (Franchised)

SS Atari Bigby, RFA Green Bay Packers (Tendered by Packers) 

SS Mike Brown, UFA Chicago Bears (Unsigned as of 3/3) 

FS Brian Dawkins, UFA Philadelphia Eagles (Signed w/ Broncos)

SS Rodney Harrison, UFA New England Patriots (Unsigned as of 3/3) 

FS Renaldo Hill, UFA Miami Dolphins (Signed w/ Broncos) 

SS Sean Jones, UFA Cleveland Browns (Unsigned as of 3/3)

SS Dawan Landry, RFA Baltimore Ravens (Tendered by Ravens)

SS/KR Jim Leonhard, UFA Baltimore Ravens (Signed w/ Jets)

FS Anthony Madison, RFA Pittsburgh Steelers (Tendered by Steelers)

SS Jon McGraw, UFA Kansas City Chiefs (Unsigned as of 3/3)

SS Lawyer Milloy, UFA Atlanta Falcons (Unsigned as of 3/3) 

SS Jermaine Phillips, UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Unsigned as of 3/3)

SS James Sanders, UFA New England Patriots (Unsigned as of 3/3) 

SS Darren Sharper, UFA Minnesota Vikings (Unsigned as of 3/3) 

FS Anthony Smith, RFA Pittsburgh Steelers (Tendered by Steelers)

SS Roy Williams, UFA Dallas Cowboys (Unsigned as of 3/3)

FS Eugene Wilson, UFA Houston Texans (Re-Signed w/ Texans)

FS Gibril Wilson, UFA Oakland Raiders (Signed w/ Dolphins)

Kickers and Punters

PK John Carney, UFA New York Giants (Unsigned as of 3/3)    

PK Robbie Gould, UFA Chicago Bears  (Re-Signed w/ Bears)

**PK Shayne Graham, UFA Cincinnati Bengals (Franchised)

P Craig Hentrich, UFA Tennessee Titans (Unsigned as of 3/3)    

PK John Kasay, UFA Carolina Panthers (Unsigned as of 3/3)    

**P Michael Koenen, UFA Atlanta Falcons (Franchised)

P Sam Koch, RFA Baltimore Ravens (Tendered by Ravens)

PK Mike Nugent, UFA New York Jets (Signed w/ Buccaneers)

PK Matt Stover, UFA Baltimore Ravens (Unsigned as of 3/3)      

 

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

Free Agency 101: The 2009 Free Agency Period is here and NFL teams are ready to shop

(Philadelphia, Pa) — Remember “Alan Faneca”, all you fans out there with dreams of signing a free agent and moving instantly into Super Bowl contention.  Faneca was one of the 2008 free agency period’s biggest fishes out there.  The former 7-time Pro Bowl guard signed a deal of a lifetime (5 years, $40 Million with $21 Million guaranteed) that made him the highest paid offensive lineman at the time to leave the frugal Pittsburg Steelers to sign with New York Jets owner Woody Johnson’s “deep pocketed” team.  The moves of bringing in Faneca and fellow free agency pickups outside linebacker Calvin Pace and right tackle Damien Woody plus trades for quarterback Brett Favre and defensive tackle Kris Jenkins were supposed to instantly hand the J-E-T-S the AFC East crown.  Well, now we know that the Jets, despite a massive off-season spending spree, did not reach the postseason for the second straight year finishing with a disappointing 9-7 record including going 1-4 in their final five games — lost to Denver, San Francisco, Seattle and Miami (lost division title at home) and barely beat Buffalo. I am sure Johnson was “giddy” seeing the return on his investment when the Jets were on the sidelines come playoff time watching the upstart AFC East champion Miami Dolphins.

I am sure during the 2008 season NFL team general managers and owners paid particular attention to the Jets’ fortunes to see the affect of extravagant free agency spending on a team.  The Jets and the equally luxurious Dallas Cowboys expected to win after shopping at Neiman Marcus in the offseason for players.  But not so fast…. as both teams didn’t even make the playoffs and it was the Pittsburgh Steelers fueled by home grown talent cultivated through the draft (James Harrison, Santonio Holmes, Ben Roethlisberger, Casey Hampton and others) who were hoisting the Super Bowl XLIII Lombardi trophy.  The Steelers proved that building a solid nucleus through the draft and playing as a “team” are the greatest keys to winning in the NFL rather than trying to buy a championship.  The Steelers confirmed the same successful formula that the Colts, Patriots, and Giants have subscribed to for years by looking to the draft first to build their teams — Did you notice all of these teams have recently won a Super Bowl.  Over the years I have always told disgruntled spend-happy fans, “Good teams fill weaknesses on their roster with solid veteran players and draft picks and bad ones try to make a splash by over spending for ‘Big Name’ free agents and usually fall apart due to non-cohesiveness”.

Timeframe: Begins at 12:01 a.m. EST on Friday, February 27th and runs to April 17th at 4 PM EST for restricted free agents

Salary Cap Information: The 2009 salary cap has been set for $124 million per team, which is $7.3 million higher than last year’s figure of $116.7 Million.  Remember TV and the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) have dictated the large pot of money that is out there.  Most of the teams are in good shape going into the free agency signing period due to good cap management.   Solid teams usually make good cap decisions (Cutting of high priced veterans, extending young ascending players, and signing value veterans at the league minimum: $750,000).  Teams with plenty of cap room (signing dollars) include: Arizona Cardinals ($40 Million under the Salary Cap as of February 27th), Detroit Lions ($39 Million under) Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($38 Million under), Kansas City Chiefs ($38 Million under), Tennessee Titans ($31 Million under), Philadelphia Eagles ($31 Million under), and Buffalo Bills ($26 Million under). While others like the Washington Redskins ($7 Million over the cap), New Orleans Saints ($6 Million over), Indianapolis Colts ($4 Million over), New York Jets ($1 Million over), Oakland Raiders ($8 Million under), New England Patriots ($5 Million under) and Dallas Cowboys ($3 Million under) will need to do some slashing and contract restructuring before trying to sign their upcoming draft picks and desired free agents.

Number of Free Agents: The National Football League announced that over 400 players are free agents of some kind and they can now negotiate with all 32 teams. That number includes the 14 free agents that were designated as “franchise” players, which is an NFL-high surpassing the former high of 11 from 2005 and 2008.

Possible CBA Issues Lurking – At the 2008 Annual NFL Spring Meeting, NFL owners while crying broke over salaries that now encompass 60% of yearly revenues, exercised a clause (had until November 8, 2008 to do so) by a unanimous vote (32-0) to shorten the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the NFL Players Association (NFLPA). The vote meant that the CBA that was originally signed in 1993 (Extended several times including the last time in 2006) would expire in 2011 instead of 2013. There have been murmurs of a possible lockout in 2012 if the owners and players cannot come together on a new CBA.  A few key items that will need to be discussed in the new CBA are the scheduled “uncapped” year in 2010, new free agency rules (years of services, team player rights, the franchise tag) and a potential rookie salary cap.  But who could blame the owners for talking about a rookie salary cap with deals like 2008 NFL Draft first overall selection Dolphins offensive tackle Jake Long’s rookie contract (5 years, $57.5 Million dollars including a signing bonus of $30 Million dollars) and that was before he even stepped on the playing field.  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said when making the announcement at the ’08 meeting of opting out of the current CBA, “We don’t need further time to analyze whether this is working or not working. It’s not working”.   The Commish added, “It was the ownership’s view that it’s not a failure of the negotiations, it’s a failure of the deal”. It will be real interesting to see how the whole potential CBA mess is handled since the NFLPA still has not settled on a successor for former NFLPA head the late Gene Upshaw.

Key Terms:

Restricted Free Agent – A player that has accrued three seasons of playing time and their contract has expired.  The player’s team must submit a “qualifying” offer (a salary level predetermined by the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and its players). The player can negotiate with any team through April 17th. If the restricted free agent accepts an offer sheet from a new team, his old team can match the offer and retain him because it has the “right of first refusal.” If the old team does not match the offer, it can possibly receive draft-choice compensation depending on the amount of its qualifying offer. If an offer sheet is not executed, the player’s rights revert to his old team after April 17th.  These are guys that usually have trade value and their team will only let them go at their price (ex. The Eagles trading restricted free agent quarterback AJ Feeley to the Miami Dolphins for a 2nd Round pick in 2005)

 Some of the bigger name restricted free agents:

DL Victor Adeyanju, RFA St. Louis Rams 

WR Miles Austin, RFA Dallas Cowboys 

WR Hank Baskett, RFA Philadelphia Eagles

SS Atari Bigby, RFA Green Bay Packers 

TE Dominique Byrd, RFA St. Louis Rams

C/G Nick Cole, RFA Philadelphia Eagles

OT Willie Colon, RFA Pittsburgh Steelers 

TE Tony Curtis, RFA Dallas Cowboys

OG Jahri Evans, RFA New Orleans Saints 

CB Cortland Finnegan, RFA Tennessee Titans 

CB Charles Gordon, RFA Minnesota Vikings 

OG Richie Incognito, RFA St. Louis Rams 

TE Jeff King, RFA Carolina Panthers

P Sam Koch, RFA Baltimore Ravens 

SS Dawan Landry, RFA Baltimore Ravens 

FS Anthony Madison, RFA Pittsburgh Steelers 

DL Stanley McClover, RFA Carolina Panthers

WR Lance Moore, RFA New Orleans Saints 

LB Quentin Moses, RFA Miami Dolphins 

TE Ben Patrick, RFA Arizona Cardinals 

TE Leonard Pope, RFA Arizona Cardinals 

FS Anthony Smith, RFA Pittsburgh Steelers 

DL Gabe Watson, RFA Arizona Cardinals 

Unrestricted Free Agent – A player with four or more accrued seasons whose contract has expired. He is free to sign with any team, with no compensation owed to their former team.  These are the guys that should be thanking Reggie White, a key marquee player who fought hard for free agency and eventually was able to sign a huge deal with the Green Bay Packers back in 1993. Over 300 players have this designation. 

Some Bigger Name Unrestricted Free Agents:

QB Kerry Collins, UFA Tennessee Titans 

QB Jeff Garcia, UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

QB Rex Grossman, UFA Chicago Bears 

QB Byron Leftwich, UFA Pittsburgh Steelers 

QB Chris Simms, UFA Tennessee Titans 

QB Kurt Warner, UFA Arizona Cardinals 

RB J.J. Arrington, UFA Arizona Cardinals 

RB Cedric Benson, UFA Cincinnati Bengals 

RB Correll Buckhalter, UFA Philadelphia Eagles

RB Kevin Jones, UFA Chicago Bears 

RB Derrick Ward, UFA New York Giants 

FB Lorenzo Neal, UFA Baltimore Ravens 

WR Devery Henderson, UFA New Orleans Saints 

WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh, UFA Cincinnati Bengals 

WR Michael Jenkins, UFA Atlanta Falcons

WR Brandon Jones, UFA Tennessee Titans 

WR Brandon Lloyd, UFA Chicago Bears 

WR Amani Toomer, UFA New York Giants

TE Chris Baker, UFA New York Jets

TE Owen Daniels, UFA Houston Texans

TE L.J. Smith, UFA Philadelphia Eagles

TE Jerramy Stevens, UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers

OT Stacy Andrews, UFA Cincinnati Bengals

C Matt Birk, UFA Minnesota Vikings 

C Jason Brown, UFA Baltimore Ravens

OT Marc Colombo, UFA Dallas Cowboys 

OT Jon Runyan, UFA Philadelphia Eagles 

C Jeff Saturday, UFA Indianapolis Colts 

OT Marvel Smith, UFA Pittsburgh Steelers 

OT Mark Tauscher, UFA Green Bay Packers

OT Tra Thomas, UFA Philadelphia Eagles 

DL Chris Canty, UFA Dallas Cowboys

DL Tommie Harris, UFA Chicago Bears 

DL Albert Haynesworth, UFA Tennessee Titans 

DL Tank Johnson, UFA Dallas Cowboys 

DL Igor Olshansky, UFA San Diego Chargers

LB Michael Boley, UFA Atlanta Falcons

LB James Farrior, UFA Pittsburgh Steelers 

LB Ray Lewis, UFA Baltimore Ravens 

LB Willie McGinest, UFA Cleveland Browns 

LB Mike Peterson, UFA Jacksonville Jaguars

LB Bart Scott, UFA Baltimore Ravens 

LB Zach Thomas, UFA Dallas Cowboys 

LB Jonathan Vilma, UFA New Orleans Saints 

CB Chris Gamble, UFA Carolina Panthers 

CB Jabari Greer, UFA Buffalo Bills

CB Corey Ivy, UFA Baltimore Ravens 

CB Ty Law, UFA New York Jets

CB Bryant McFadden, UFA Pittsburgh Steelers  

FS Brian Dawkins, UFA Philadelphia Eagles 

SS Rodney Harrison, UFA New England Patriots 

SS Sean Jones, UFA Cleveland Browns 

SS Darren Sharper, UFA Minnesota Vikings 

PK John Carney, UFA New York Giants 

PK Robbie Gould, UFA Chicago Bears 

PK John Kasay, UFA Carolina Panthers 

PK Matt Stover, UFA Baltimore Ravens

Transition Player – A team can designate one transition player (or one franchise player) in any given year. The player’s team must offer a minimum of the average of the top 10 salaries of last season at the player’s position or 120 percent of the player’s previous year’s salary, whichever is greater (ex. Transition Salary for a RB in 2009 is $5.925 Million). A transition player designation gives the team a first-refusal right to match within seven days any offer sheet given to the player by another team after his contract expires. If the team matches, it retains the player. If it does not match, it receives no compensation.

  • No players were designated as a “Transition Player” this year.

Non-Exclusive Franchise Player – A team can designate one franchise player in any given year as a “Non-Exclusive Franchise” player. The salary level offered by the designating team determines whether the player is an Exclusive or Non-Exclusive franchise player. A “Non-Exclusive” franchise player is free to sign with other teams, but his team has the right to match the offer after 7 days. These types of free agents are offered a minimum of the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position as of April.  A Non-Exclusive Franchised Player can solicit deals from other teams, but his current team has first-refusal rights to match within seven days any offer sheet. If the player does sign and his team matches, the old team retains the player. If old team does not match, the old team receives compensation in the form of draft picks (usually first rounders) from the new team depending on the level they were tendered at originally.  The deadline for making these designations for 2009 was Feb. 19th.

LB Karlos Dansby, UFA Arizona Cardinals

LB Leroy Hill, UFA Seattle Seahawks 

P Michael Koenen, UFA Atlanta Falcons

TE Bo Scaife, UFA Tennessee Titans

OT Max Starks, UFA Pittsburgh Steelers

Exclusive Franchise Player – A team can designate one franchise player in any given year as an “Exclusive Franchise” player. The salary level offered by the designating team determines whether the player is an Exclusive or Non-Exclusive franchise player. An “exclusive” franchise player is not free to sign with another team.  These type of players are offered a minimum of the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position as of April.  Some teams use the tag as a way to initiate talks for a long-term contract, but usually players and their agents that are designated as exclusive franchise players are extremely unhappy and can cause distractions.  Their angst is due to the loss of an “upfront” signing bonus (guaranteed $$$).  Though they will be paid at the highest level of their position, players typically want the big payday that comes with being a free agent.  In the past we have seen franchised players miss all non-mandatory off season training activities and report late or holdout of training camp (ex. Seattle Seahawks Offensive Tackle Walter Jones in 2004 & 2005). The deadline for making these designations for 2009 was Feb. 19th. Here are the anticipated salaries for franchised players Quarterbacks: $14.65 Million, Cornerbacks: $9.96 Million, Defensive Ends: $8.99 Million, Linebackers: $8.30 Million, Wide Receivers: $9.88 Million, Offensive Lineman: $8.45 Million, Defensive Tackles: $6.06 Million, Running Backs: $6.62 Million, Tight Ends: $4.46 Million, Safeties: $6.34 Million, and Kickers/Punters: $2.48 Million

2009 “Exclusive” Franchise Designated Players

S Oshiomogho “O.J” Atogwe, UFA St Louis Rams

WR Antonio Bryant, UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers

QB Matt Cassel, UFA New England Patriots

K Shayne Graham, UFA, Cinncinati Bengals

RB Brandon Jacobs, UFA New York Giants

DL Julius Peppers, UFA Carolina Panthers 

CB Dunta Robinson, UFA Houston Texans 

RB Darren Sproles, UFA San Diego Chargers

OLB/DE Terrell Suggs, UFA Baltimore Ravens

Cap Casualty – A veteran player that has been released from his contract usually as “cap relief” for his former team.  These players are usually let go before Free Agency or before their contract bonuses incentives kick-in usually around March or June prior to OTA’s and training camp.  Veteran “street” free agents are eligible to sign with any team as soon as they are released, thus bypassing free agency period dates.

Some Bigger Name 2009 Cap Casualty Players

St. Louis Rams WR Drew Bennett

Detroit Lions CB Leigh Bodden

Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB Derrick Brooks

Detroit Lions TE Dan Campbell

Oakland Raiders WR Ronald Curry

NY Giants RB Reuben Droughns

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Warrick Dunn

Kansas City Chiefs LB Donnie Edwards

Oakland Raiders LB Kalimba Edwards

Jacksonville Jaguars CB Drayton Florence

Pittsburgh Steelers LB Larry Foote (expected to be released or traded by NFL Draft)

Detroit Lions WR Mike Furrey

Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Joey Galloway

Houston Texans RB Ahmad Green

Houston Texans LB Morlon Greenwood

Oakland Raiders OL Kwame Harris

Indianapolis Colts WR Marvin Harrison

St. Louis Rams WR Torry Holt (expected to be released or traded by NFL Draft)

Kansas City Chiefs QB Damon Huard

Arizona Cardinals RB Edge James (expected to be released or traded by NFL Draft)

Dallas Cowboys CB Adam “Pacman” Jones

Detroit Lions QB Jon Kitna (expected to be released by NFL Draft)

NY Giants DB Sammy Knight

NY Giants DB Sam Madison

Baltimore Ravens DB Chris McAllister

New Orleans Saints RB Deuce McAllister

Atlanta Falcons S Lawyer Milloy

Detroit Lions guard Edwin Mulitalo

Dallas Cowboys WR Terrell Owens (expected to be released or traded by NFL Draft)

St. Louis Rams OT Orlando Pace (expected to be released or traded by NFL Draft)

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Jerry Porter

Denver Broncos DT DeWayne Robertson

Detroit Lions DB Dwight Smith

San Francisco 49ers DB Shawntae Spencer (expected to be released by NFL Draft)

Kansas City Chiefs CB Patrick Surtain

Jacksonville Jaguars RB Fred Taylor

Oakland Raiders WR Javon Walker (expected to be released by NFL Draft)

Oakland Raiders S Gibril Wilson

Players signing new deals with their old team, thus avoiding free agency

Oakland Raiders CB Nnamdi Asomugha

Tennessee Titans K Rob Bironas

Miami Dolphins OT Vernon Carey

Miami Dolphins LB Channing Crowder

Carolina Panthers OT Jordan Gross

Detroit Lions K Jason Hanson

Indianapolis Colts CB Kelvin Hayden

Oakland Raiders P Shane Lechler

Tampa Bay Buccaneers DT Ryan Simms

 

  

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

2009 Top NFL Free Agents

With the 2009 NFL Free Agency period approaching fast (February 27th), I thought that I would put together my top free agent by position.

** Indicates a player that has been “franchised” by their team

Quarterbacks

QB Kyle Boller, UFA Baltimore Ravens 

 **QB Matt Cassel, UFA New England Patriots 

QB Kerry Collins, UFA Tennessee Titans 

QB Jeff Garcia, UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

QB Rex Grossman, UFA Chicago Bears 

QB Byron Leftwich, UFA Pittsburgh Steelers 

QB J.P. Losman, UFA Buffalo Bills 

QB Dan Orlovsky, UFA Detroit Lions

QB JT O’Sullivan, UFA San Francisco 49ers

QB Chris Simms, UFA Tennessee Titans 

QB Kurt Warner, UFA Arizona Cardinals 

 Running Backs

RB J.J. Arrington, UFA Arizona Cardinals 

RB Tatum Bell, UFA Denver Broncos

RB Cedric Benson, UFA Cincinnati Bengals 

RB Correll Buckhalter, UFA Philadelphia Eagles 

RB Warrick Dunn, UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers

RB DeShaun Foster, UFA San Francisco 49ers

RB Ahmad Green, UFA Houston Texans

**RB Brandon Jacobs, UFA New York Giants

RB Edgerrin James, UFA Arizona Cardinals  (expected to be released)

RB Rudi Johnson, UFA Detroit Lions

RB Kevin Jones, UFA Chicago Bears 

RB LaMont Jordan, UFA New England Patriots 

RB Deuce McAllister, UFA New Orleans Saints

RB Chris Perry, UFA Cinncinati Bengals

RB Dominic Rhodes, UFA Indianapolis Colts

**RB Darren Sproles, UFA San Diego Chargers 

RB Fred Taylor, UFA Jacksonville Jaguars

RB Derrick Ward, UFA New York Giants 

Fullbacks

FB Heath Evans, UFA New England Patriots 

FB Lorenzo Neal, UFA Baltimore Ravens 

FB Tony Richardson, UFA New York Jets 

FB Leonard Weaver, UFA Seattle Seahawks 

Wide Receivers

WR Miles Austin, RFA Dallas Cowboys 

WR Hank Baskett, RFA Philadelphia Eagles

WR Drew Bennett, UFA St. Louis Rams

**WR Antonio Bryant, UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

WR Michael Clayton, UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

WR Ronald Curry, UFA Oakland Raiders

WR Jabar Gaffney, UFA New England Patriots 

WR Joey Galloway, UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers

WR Devery Henderson, UFA New Orleans Saints 

WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh, UFA Cincinnati Bengals 

WR Michael Jenkins, UFA Atlanta Falcons

WR Bryant Johnson, UFA San Francisco 49ers 

WR Brandon Jones, UFA Tennessee Titans 

WR Brandon Lloyd, UFA Chicago Bears 

WR Dane Looker, UFA St. Louis Rams

WR Justin McCareins, UFA Tennessee Titans 

WR Shaun McDonald, UFA Detroit Lions 

WR Lance Moore, RFA New Orleans Saints 

WR Jerry Porter, UFA Jacksonville Jaguars

WR Amani Toomer, UFA New York Giants

WR Javon Walker, UFA Oakland Raiders

WR Nate Washington, UFA Pittsburgh Steelers 

WR Reggie Williams, UFA Jacksonville Jaguars

Tight Ends

TE Mark Bruener, UFA Houston Texans

TE Dominique Byrd, RFA St. Louis Rams

TE Desmond Clark, UFA Chicago Bears 

TE Tony Curtis, RFA Dallas Cowboys

TE Owen Daniels, UFA Houston Texans

TE Darnell Dinkins, UFA Cleveland Browns 

TE Bubba Franks, UFA New York Jets

TE Jeff King, RFA Carolina Panthers 

TE Jim Kleinsasser, UFA Minnesota Vikings 

TE Ben Patrick, RFA Arizona Cardinals 

TE Leonard Pope, RFA Arizona Cardinals 

**TE Bo Scaife, UFA Tennessee Titans

TE L.J. Smith, UFA Philadelphia Eagles 

TE Jerramy Stevens, UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers

TE Daniel Wilcox, UFA Baltimore Ravens 

Offensive Line

OT Stacy Andrews, UFA Cincinnati Bengals

OT Khalif Barnes, UFA Jacksonville Jaguars 

C Matt Birk, UFA Minnesota Vikings 

C Jason Brown, UFA Baltimore Ravens 

C/G Nick Cole, RFA Philadelphia Eagles

OT Marc Colombo, UFA Dallas Cowboys 

OT Willie Colon, RFA Pittsburgh Steelers 

OG Jahri Evans, RFA New Orleans Saints 

OT George Foster, UFA Detroit Lions 

C Melvin Fowler, UFA Buffalo Bills 

OG Pete Kendall, UFA Washington Redskins

OG Richie Incognito, RFA St. Louis Rams 

OG Seth McKinney, UFA Cleveland Browns 

OT Jon Runyan, UFA Philadelphia Eagles 

C Jeff Saturday, UFA Indianapolis Colts 

OT Marvel Smith, UFA Pittsburgh Steelers 

**OT Max Starks, UFA Pittsburgh Steelers

OT Jon Stinchcomb, UFA New Orleans Saints 

OT Mark Tauscher, UFA Green Bay Packers 

OT Tra Thomas, UFA Philadelphia Eagles 

C Ben Wilkerson, UFA Atlanta Falcons 

Defensive Line

DL Victor Adeyanju, RFA St. Louis Rams 

DL Rocky Bernard, UFA Seattle Seahawks

DL Bertrand Berry, UFA Arizona Cardinals 

DL Chris Canty, UFA Dallas Cowboys

DL Tommie Harris, UFA Chicago Bears 

DL Albert Haynesworth, UFA Tennessee Titans 

DL Tank Johnson, UFA Dallas Cowboys 

DL Stanley McClover, RFA Carolina Panthers

DL Jerome McDougle, UFA New York Giants

DL Igor Olshansky, UFA San Diego Chargers

**DL Julius Peppers, UFA Carolina Panthers 

DL Kenny Peterson, UFA Denver Broncos 

DL Antonio Smith, UFA Arizona Cardinals

**OLB/DL Terrell Suggs, UFA Baltimore Ravens 

DL John Thornton, UFA Cincinnati Bengals 

DL Gabe Watson, RFA Arizona Cardinals 

Linebackers

LB Eric Barton, UFA New York Jets 

LB Monty Beisel, UFA Arizona Cardinals 

LB Michael Boley, UFA Atlanta Falcons

LB Keith Brooking, UFA Atlanta Falcons

LB Derrick Brooks, UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers

**LB Karlos Dansby, UFA Arizona Cardinals

LB Andra Davis, UFA Cleveland Browns

LB Kalimba Edwards, UFA Oakland Raiders

LB James Farrior, UFA Pittsburgh Steelers 

LB Tyjuan Hagler, UFA Indianapolis Colts 

**LB Leroy Hill, UFA Seattle Seahawks

LB Napoleon Harrison, UFA Minnesota Vikings

LB Larry Izzo, UFA New England Patriots 

LB D.D. Lewis, UFA Seattle Seahawks 

LB Ray Lewis, UFA Baltimore Ravens 

LB Willie McGinest, UFA Cleveland Browns 

LB Quentin Moses, ERFA Miami Dolphins 

LB Mike Peterson, UFA Jacksonville Jaguars

LB Junior Seau, UFA New England Patriots

LB Bart Scott, UFA Baltimore Ravens 

LB Zach Thomas, UFA Dallas Cowboys 

LB Jonathan Vilma, UFA New Orleans Saints 

LB Nate Webster, UFA Denver Broncos 

Cornerbacks

CB Phillip Buchanon, UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

CB/KR Chris Carr, UFA Tennessee Titans

CB Cortland Finnegan, RFA Tennessee Titans 

CB Domonique Foxworth, UFA Atlanta Falcons

CB Chris Gamble, UFA Carolina Panthers 

CB Andre’ Goodman, UFA Miami Dolphins 

CB Charles Gordon, RFA Minnesota Vikings 

CB Jabari Greer, UFA Buffalo Bills 

CB DeAngelo Hall, UFA Washington Redskins

CB Corey Ivy, UFA Baltimore Ravens 

CB Adam “Pacman” Jones, UFA Dallas Cowboys 

CB Eric King, UFA Tennessee Titans 

CB Ty Law, UFA New York Jets

CB Bryant McFadden, UFA Pittsburgh Steelers 

CB R.W. McQuarters, UFA New York Giants 

CB Justin Miller, UFA Oakland Raiders 

CB Deltha O’Neil, UFA New England Patriots

**CB Dunta Robinson, UFA Houston Texans 

CB/KR Allen Rossum, UFA San Francisco 49ers 

CB Duane Starks, UFA Oakland Raiders 

Safeties

FS Mike Adams, UFA Cleveland Browns 

FS Will Allen, UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

**FS Oshiomogho “O.J” Atogwe, UFA St Louis Rams

SS Atari Bigby, RFA Green Bay Packers 

SS Mike Brown, UFA Chicago Bears 

FS Brian Dawkins, UFA Philadelphia Eagles 

SS Rodney Harrison, UFA New England Patriots 

FS Renaldo Hill, UFA Miami Dolphins 

SS Sean Jones, UFA Cleveland Browns 

SS Dawan Landry, RFA Baltimore Ravens 

SS/KR Jim Leonhard, UFA Baltimore Ravens

FS Anthony Madison, RFA Pittsburgh Steelers 

SS Jon McGraw, UFA Kansas City Chiefs 

SS Lawyer Milloy, UFA Atlanta Falcons 

SS Jermaine Phillips, UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers

SS James Sanders, UFA New England Patriots 

SS Darren Sharper, UFA Minnesota Vikings 

FS Anthony Smith, RFA Pittsburgh Steelers

FS Eugene Wilson, UFA Houston Texans

FS Gibril Wilson, UFA Oakland Raiders 

Kickers and Punters

PK John Carney, UFA New York Giants 

PK Robbie Gould, UFA Chicago Bears 

**PK Shayne Graham, UFA Cincinnati Bengals

P Craig Hentrich, UFA Tennessee Titans 

PK John Kasay, UFA Carolina Panthers 

**P Michael Koenen, UFA Atlanta Falcons 

P Sam Koch, RFA Baltimore Ravens

PK Mike Nugent, UFA New York Jets 

PK Matt Stover, UFA Baltimore Ravens  

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

Franchise Deadline Passes in the NFL

(Philadelphia, Pa) — Thursday February 19th was the last day that NFL teams could “franchise” their potential free agents for the 2009 NFL season.  The franchise tag allows for a team to limit a potential free agent’s movements under the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). A team can designate one franchise player in any given year as a “Franchise” player before the start of the Free Agency signing period (February 27th). The salary level offered by the designating team determines whether the player is an Exclusive or Non-Exclusive franchise player. This year there was an NFL-high 14 free agents that were designated as “franchise” players, which eclipsed the former high of eleven from 2005 and 2008.

Some teams use the tag as a way to initiate talks for a long-term contract, but usually “franchise” players and their agents are extremely unhappy and can cause distractions due to the loss of “upfront” signing bonus money (guaranteed $$$).  Though franchised players will be paid at the highest level of their position (average of the top-five salaries at their position), players typically want the big payday that comes with being a marquee free agent.  In the past, we have seen franchised players miss off season training activities (OTA’s) and report late or holdout of training camp (ex. Seattle Seahawks Offensive Tackle Walter Jones in 2004 & 2005). 

The player most likely to follow in the disgruntled “I am not reporting” pattern is Carolina Panther defensive end Julius Peppers.  The 2008 Pro Bowl player, who is coming off a career high of 14.5 sacks, wanted the opportunity to play elsewhere for Dwight Freeney type numbers (signed in 2007 for six years, $72 Million with a $30 Million dollar signing bonus).  But when the Panthers signed potential free agent tackle Jordan Gross to a long-term deal, Peppers lost his opportunity at leaving the only place he has played in collegiately and professionally.  Peppers went as far as saying he would only play for 4 teams (the Dallas Cowboys and three unnamed team), but he really has little leverage as Panthers will control his player rights for the next year.  The next date for franchised players to watch is July 22nd as that is the last day that their franchising team can sign them to a long term deal, if not the player can only sign their one-year franchise contract.

Here are the anticipated salaries for franchised players Quarterbacks: $14.65 Million, Cornerbacks: $9.96 Million, Defensive Ends: $8.99 Million, Linebackers: $8.30 Million, Wide Receivers: $9.88 Million, Offensive Lineman: $8.45 Million, Defensive Tackles: $6.06 Million, Running Backs: $6.62 Million, Tight Ends: $4.46 Million, Safeties: $6.34 Million, and Kickers/Punters: $2.48 Million. An “exclusive” franchise player is not free to sign with another team, while a “non-exclusive” franchise player can negotiate with the other teams, but the franchising club has a right to match or receive compensation.

2009 Franchise Designated Players

S Oshiomogho “O.J” Atogwe, UFA St Louis Rams

WR Antonio Bryant, UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers

QB Matt Cassel, UFA New England Patriots

**LB Karlos Dansby, UFA Arizona Cardinals

K Shayne Graham, UFA, Cincinnati Bengals

**LB Leroy Hill, UFA Seattle Seahawks 

RB Brandon Jacobs, UFA New York Giants

**P Michael Koenen, UFA Atlanta Falcons

DL Julius Peppers, UFA Carolina Panthers 

CB Dunta Robinson, UFA Houston Texans 

**TE Bo Scaife, UFA Tennessee Titans

RB Darren Sproles, UFA San Diego Chargers

**OT Max Starks, UFA Pittsburgh Steelers

OLB/DE Terrell Suggs, UFA Baltimore Ravens

 ** Non-Exclusive

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)