NFL's big stars affected by new landscape

The new look of free agency changed the how many players would become unrestricted free agents, but it also seems to have encouraged teams to release high-priced veterans. Loyalty is out; cost savings without camp ramifications are in.

The latest stage in the changing face of the NFL under the new set of rules being set forth by the league made itself evident once again on Friday, as the Dallas Cowboys released future Hall of Fame left tackle Flozell Adams – saving $7.5 million in salary and bonuses for the 2010 season.

The new-look NFL features the prime free agents (those with four or five years of experience) being restricted while veterans with fat contracts and big bonuses are being released. It has all the appearances of being more cutthroat that in the past. That really isn't saying much, since the NFL has always been a league in which money trumps loyalty. If a player doesn't perform up to his contract, he gets released. Period. But the high-profile releases that have sent ripple waves through the NFL in the last few weeks has been almost without precedent.

When players like LaDainian Tomlinson and Adams – both likely first-ballot Hall of Famers – can be released and a potential Hall of Famer like Donovan McNabb has his name thrown out in trade discussions, it seems like a clear sign that the NFL landscape is once again changing. Loyalty to players who have spent their entire careers helping make a franchise successful doesn't seem to have the same amount of sway as it used to.

Will Chargers fans be outraged if L.T. has a big year in New York? Probably. Will the Cowboys have a difficult time replacing an ironman at left tackle? No question about it, but given the beating Tony Romo took from the Vikings in the playoffs, it shouldn't come as any great surprise that change was coming in Dallas. Will Eagles fans miss McNabb? Only if Kevin Kolb and/or Michael Vick stink up the joint, which could arguably be the first time Eagles fans would show much appreciation for McNabb.

We knew with the onset of an uncapped season in the NFL that there were going to be changes coming. But who would have imagined those affected the most would be some of the biggest names in the sport?

SATURDAY NOTES

  • While the Vikings have been dragging their feet about finding a replacement for Chester Taylor, the Redskins appear to be trying to corner the market on big-name running backs. Since Taylor signed away with Chicago, the only effort the Vikings have made to secure a running back was bidding against the Jets for Tomlinson. As Vikings fans know, the Jets won out on that one. Since then, the name of Brian Westbrook has been thrown around, but no overtures (at least public overtures) have been made toward him. In the meantime, the Redskins have made a couple of running back signings – inking Larry Johnson last week and adding Willie Parker Friday. That's a lot of movement considering that incumbent Clinton Portis, who missed time last season with post-concussion concerns, is expected back to compete for his starting position.

  • The stupidity of Shaun Rogers is getting more and more interest as fans and media alike question how he could enter an airport with a loaded handgun in his carry-on bag. Even though it wasn't used in the commission of a crime, law enforcement loves to use high-profile people as cautionary tales in the court system to send a message to the public that such crimes, whether they be related to drugs, guns, etc., are not tolerated and are prosecuted. The contention has been the Rogers simply didn't realize he had a handgun in the bag when he packed it, however that excuse doesn't hold a lot of water. Look for the NFL to come down hard on Rogers regardless of how his legal proceedings turn out.

  • Friday marked the one-year anniversary of Jay Cutler joining the Bears. While Season One wasn't a success by any measure and the Bears have done little to solidify a suspect receiver corps in free agency the last two years, there remains optimism that Cutler will be the player that helps lead the Bears back to the Super Bowl. However, he did come with a steep price. For the second straight year, the Bears won't have a first-round pick (which went to Denver, along with Kyle Orton and the first- and second-round picks of the Bears in 2009). Adding to the Bears' problems in restocking the shelves is that they won't have a second-round pick either. That went to Tampa Bay in exchange for defensive lineman Gaines Adams, who died suddenly earlier this year.


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