Free Agency: Opportunity To Overpay

Teams line up to throw money at players who in any other market are probably considered average. Although the Patriots haven't done that, they still have to sign Randy Moss. Sometimes second tier players get top tier money, at least that's the way some GMs see it.

The 2008 NFL year officially began when the clock struck midnight Thursday.

The question is, how long it will take for heads to shake, incredulous at some of the initial signings that will take place in free agency?

With 11 players receiving franchise tags, and another getting the transition tag, the available pool of top-line players has been significantly reduced. It is lessened even more as teams re-signed their own players before they hit the open market.

Said Billy Devaney, executive vice president of player personnel for the St. Louis Rams, "There were non-starters that got the franchise tender this year. That's because the pool is so small this year. There's going to be a small amount of players who are going to get ridiculous money and people are going to say, 'You've got to be kidding me.'

"People are looking and saying, 'We're not going to spend a lot of money on other team's free agents. We don't have to compete with other teams.' I think all the moves are great, teams can tie up their guys, using the franchise tag."

Devaney further believes the draft remains the lifeblood of any franchise, and that free agency should only be used judiciously.

"If you can supplement a little bit by getting a starter maybe a backup, some depth, that's the most you can hope for," he said. "You're not going to build your team in free agency."

As Philadelphia Eagles president Joe Banner said, "There are certain positions where you only have one good guy that hasn't been (franchise) tagged. "I think you're going to see a very aggressive rush those first few days. I think the first day or two are going to be crazy.

"My own opinion is, there's going to be a very, very short market this year. It's not to say there aren't any opportunities out there, but I think you're going to see the market accelerated ... The second tier of free agency, where maybe that kicked in two weeks into free agency in the past, maybe you're going to see it kicking in three to five days into free agency."

Howard Balzer is a Senior NFL Writer for The Sports Xchange.

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