First there was the language built into the collective bargaining agreement designed to limit what the final eight teams in the playoffs would be able to do in the offseason of an uncapped year. The restrictions placed on the Vikings, Saints, Colts and Jets call for none of those team being able to sign a unrestricted free agent until they lose one of their own.
It would appear the situation is worse than initially thought. Not only can the Vikings not sign an unrestricted free agent until they lose one of their own, there is stipulation that says the value of the first year of the replacement free agent can't be more than the first-year salary paid to the free agent who signed elsewhere, meaning that the Vikings will be hamstrung to sign a unrestricted free agent to a contract at or below the level of that signed by any unrestricted free agent they would lose. In addition, a clause prohibiting more than a 30 percent increase in pay from one year to the next would also be in force.
However, the language of the CBA also extends into potential trades of franchised players. If the Vikings (or Saints, Colts or Jets) had a disgruntled player who would be an unrestricted free agent that they wanted to trade and could only do so by franchising the player, because they are in the final four teams, the only way they could essentially trade a franchise player would be to get the full amount a team would surrender to steal away a franchise player – two first-round draft picks. As crazy as it sounds, the league and the players union instituted such language to prevent a team from trying to load up in an uncapped season. But is it serving its purpose?
The Vikings weren't expected to be overly busy in the free agent market to begin with, but with the oppressive restrictions placed on them by the Final Eight Plan, it would seem that any free agent activity (if any) the team undertakes in the offseason will have to be of the low-rent variety – not by choice, but by force.
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.