Redskins, NFL Entering Stormy Waters

Labor negotiations and collective bargaining agreements are very complicated. One of the things we like to do here is make the complex understandable and to take information overload and boil it down to answer the question that most of the loyal readers here want answered—What effect does it have on the Redskins?

The "it" in this case is the pending changes to free agency that will take place in March if the NFL owners and players fail to arrive at a collective bargaining agreement by the time the free agent signing period rolls around. This will not be business as usual as several key changes take place. What are those changes and how will they affect the Redskins? Glad you asked:

  1. 2007 is currently scheduled to be an uncapped year—We'll start with the main one here, since the other changes are there mostly because of this single fact. It will not take a vote of the NFL owners to get rid of the cap; inaction alone will make it happen. The surface implications of that for the Redskins, one of the NFL's richest franchises, are obvious. Without spending restraints, money will not be an object to the Redskins getting the players they want.

  2. Signing bonuses can only be prorated over four years—This decidedly will hurt the Redskins in free agency this year. They will have very little cap room to work with and they have managed to do wonders with limited cap space in the past by giving out large bonuses and spreading the cap impact of them out over the coming years. A compacted period of time to do this won't help. Teams with more cap space in 2006 will be able to frontload their deals to ace out the Redskins. Perhaps some players on the market will sign shorter deals, hoping to cash in big in an uncapped environment next year.

  3. A player's compensation can go up only 30% from 2006 to 2007—To prevent teams from loading up all kinds of salary and bonus money into the uncapped year there is the 30% Rule, which disallows any contract with a pay increase of more than 30% from '06 to '07. That rule is wreaking havoc with a technique the Redskins had intended to use to get under the cap this year. The team has the option to guarantee roster bonuses due to several players, which would spread the cap impact out over several years rather than piling it all into this year. However, such a maneuver would push most of those players' contracts into violation of the 30% Rule. On top of that, the Redskins can't use big roster bonuses in '07 to help attract free agents for the same reason.

  4. After 2006, a player will have to have played six years in the league to qualify for unrestricted free agency—Currently, a player is free if his contract is up and he has four vested seasons. This makes for all kinds of strategic possibilities when it comes to dealing with players with fewer than six seasons under their belts. In particular, Patrick Ramsey and Ladell Betts, both four-year players entering the final years of their deals, will have to carefully consider their options as they may or may not be free at the end of their contracts.

  5. There is no difference between cutting a player before June 1 and cutting him after that date—Until now, teams could spread out the prorated cap impact of releasing a player over two years by releasing him after June 1. That is no longer the case. This will speed up a decision in LaVar Arrington's case, as there will be no advantage in waiting if indeed the team intends to release him.

 

Of course, nobody really knows what the practical impact of the NFL sailing in these choppy, uncharted waters will be. Nobody will quite know what to do. The law of unintended consequences undoubtedly will kick in and all sorts of things that nobody anticipates happening will happen.

And all of this is subject to change. Although it does not appear that the players and owners are anywhere near a new agreement, a breakthrough could occur at any time. Certainly, it seems that there are enough poison pills here to give both sides plenty of incentive to get something done. There have been rumors—just rumors, mind you—that the owners and union will mutually agree to move back the signing period a month or so to give them more time to hammer out an agreement.

In the meantime, they will be stocking up on midnight oil at Redskins Park as they will be burning plenty of it there.


Breaking Burgundy Top Stories

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The \"it\" in this case is the pending changes to free agency that will take place in March if the NFL owners and players fail to arrive at a collective bargaining agreement by the time the free agent signing period rolls around. This will not be business as usual as several key changes take place. What are those changes and how will they affect the Redskins? Glad you asked:

  1. 2007 is currently scheduled to be an uncapped year—We'll start with the main one here, since the other changes are there mostly because of this single fact. It will not take a vote of the NFL owners to get rid of the cap; inaction alone will make it happen. The surface implications of that for the Redskins, one of the NFL's richest franchises, are obvious. Without spending restraints, money will not be an object to the Redskins getting the players they want.

  2. Signing bonuses can only be prorated over four years—This decidedly will hurt the Redskins in free agency this year. They will have very little cap room to work with and they have managed to do wonders with limited cap space in the past by giving out large bonuses and spreading the cap impact of them out over the coming years. A compacted period of time to do this won't help. Teams with more cap space in 2006 will be able to frontload their deals to ace out the Redskins. Perhaps some players on the market will sign shorter deals, hoping to cash in big in an uncapped environment next year.

  3. A player's compensation can go up only 30% from 2006 to 2007—To prevent teams from loading up all kinds of salary and bonus money into the uncapped year there is the 30% Rule, which disallows any contract with a pay increase of more than 30% from '06 to '07. That rule is wreaking havoc with a technique the Redskins had intended to use to get under the cap this year. The team has the option to guarantee roster bonuses due to several players, which would spread the cap impact out over several years rather than piling it all into this year. However, such a maneuver would push most of those players' contracts into violation of the 30% Rule. On top of that, the Redskins can't use big roster bonuses in '07 to help attract free agents for the same reason.

  4. After 2006, a player will have to have played six years in the league to qualify for unrestricted free agency—Currently, a player is free if his contract is up and he has four vested seasons. This makes for all kinds of strategic possibilities when it comes to dealing with players with fewer than six seasons under their belts. In particular, Patrick Ramsey and Ladell Betts, both four-year players entering the final years of their deals, will have to carefully consider their options as they may or may not be free at the end of their contracts.

  5. There is no difference between cutting a player before June 1 and cutting him after that date—Until now, teams could spread out the prorated cap impact of releasing a player over two years by releasing him after June 1. That is no longer the case. This will speed up a decision in LaVar Arrington's case, as there will be no advantage in waiting if indeed the team intends to release him.

 

Of course, nobody really knows what the practical impact of the NFL sailing in these choppy, uncharted waters will be. Nobody will quite know what to do. The law of unintended consequences undoubtedly will kick in and all sorts of things that nobody anticipates happening will happen.

And all of this is subject to change. Although it does not appear that the players and owners are anywhere near a new agreement, a breakthrough could occur at any time. Certainly, it seems that there are enough poison pills here to give both sides plenty of incentive to get something done. There have been rumors—just rumors, mind you—that the owners and union will mutually agree to move back the signing period a month or so to give them more time to hammer out an agreement.

In the meantime, they will be stocking up on midnight oil at Redskins Park as they will be burning plenty of it there.

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