Free-agent fun ready to start

Free-agent fun ready to start

With a CBA reportedly agreed to by both sides, the fun of free agency will start this week. Some teams, like the Vikings, might have to restructure contracts. Other will be spending wildly.

Finally!

Late Sunday night word came out that the NFL players association and the league's owners have reached agreement on the remaining points of contention that stood between the passage of a 10-year collective bargaining agreement. The players still have to ratify the agreement, but that is being viewed as a mere formality.

Now comes the fun part.

Since March, the owners have stood united as one – much like the Saints and Vikings came to the sidelines prior to the start of their season-opening game Sept. 9, 2010 showing signs of solidarity. Now free agency could start as early as Tuesday.

With the new CBA comes a new salary cap, plus the requirement to spend closer to the cap than ever before in real dollars.

What makes this situation unique is that, after so long of being on the same side when it comes to compensating players, the owners are going to pull back the velvet rope. However, they will be able to do it to varying levels. It is safe to say that, if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers wanted Peyton Manning, they could take care of his signing bonus in this cap year (they're almost $60 million under the $120 million they need to be shooting for). It makes you wonder why the Glazer family was spending so much money on their soccer interests and not their "real" football venture.

The disparity between the free agency haves and have-nots is monstrous. Here is the latest guesstimate as to where the 32 NFL teams are at in terms of the new and improved CBA-approved salary cap.

Tampa Bay – $59.2 million under
Seattle – $39 million under
Arizona – $37.3 million under
Chicago – $37 million under
Buffalo – $35.9 million under
Cincinnati – $35.9 million under
St. Louis – $35.6 million under
Kansas City – $34.3 million under
Jacksonville – $31.4 million under
Carolina – $30.6 million under
San Diego – $19.4 million under
San Francisco – $18.9 million under
Detroit – $16.6 million under
Atlanta – $13.9 million under
Philadelphia – $13 million under
New Orleans – $11.7 million under
Washington – $10.6 million under
Tennessee – $10.3 million under
Houston – $7.6 million under
New England – $7.6 million under
Baltimore – $5.3 million under
Denver – $1 million under
Green Bay – $62,000 under
New York Jets – $1.2 million over
Indianapolis – $2.7 million over
Minnesota – $5.1 million over
Oakland – $10 million over
Pittsburgh $10 million over
New York Giants – $11.3 million over
Dallas – $18.9 million over

From the sounds of everything we're hearing, it's going to be "Game on!" in trying to sign the free agent and rookie classes out there and it's going to be a Rebel Yell type of opening salvo when it all starts. Teams like the Vikings will be restructuring. Teams like Green Bay will be standing pat. Teams like Chicago will spending like drunken sailors.

The landscape of the NFL playing field has been altered by the lockout. Now comes the fun part. Get your popcorn ready.


John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.


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