The move effectively shatters the image of labor peace that the NFL has enjoyed over the last decade, and puts in motion a free agency period that could result in some of the most draconian player cuts in recent memory.
In line with Scout.com's news-breaking reports last weekend, the salary cap will remain at $94.5 million, leaving many NFL clubs in the position of having to shed veteran players in order to be under the cap by midnight Thursday. Many around the NFL had placed the nickname of "Bloody Thursday" on such a turn of events.
A few NFL clubs are in good cap shape and are in a position to take advantage of the talent windfall. Among the teams with cap room to allow spending are the Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns and the Green Bay Packers. Other teams, such as the Washington Redskins and Kansas City Chiefs, are in a position where they will need to release a significant amount of payroll to get under the cap.
The Eagles are thought to be at about $14.2 million under the cap, before cutting loose Terrell Owens, which will drop $6.5 million off the ledger, putting the Eagles in good financial shape that could allow them to pursue multiple top level free agents.
While short-term attention is focused on the impact to this year's free agency period, long-term impact is likely to be be more significant. The prospect of serious labor strife is now very real, and the NFL's concepts of guaranteed contracts, limited free agency, and even the NFL draft could be significantly changed. At present, the 2007 season will take place without a salary cap, a situation which may cause a significant change in the level of competitive balance the NFL has enjoyed in recent years.