The 2010 NFL free agency frenzy begins March 1 and there are plenty of questions for various players and teams as the offseason kicks off. This free agency period may be among the most intriguing in many years due to the possibility of an uncapped year.
If this is an uncapped season (one with no salary cap) it becomes a whole new ball game. The big issue with an uncapped year is the effect it is going to have on players who were set to become unrestricted free agents (UFC). Normally a player could test the open market once his contract expires after four seasons. However if there is no salary cap they will not become unrestricted free agents until after their sixth season.
So if no deal is struck by March 5 these players will become restricted free agents (RFA)and their teams can place tenders on them which will give them the right to match any offer and receive draft pick compensation if they choose not to match the contract offer. Confused yet? Here is a look at some notable offensive players that will be relegated to restricted free agency or who will remain unrestricted free agents this offseason. All statuses will be based on an uncapped year which is likely.
QB: Chad Pennington (UFA), will certainly be finding a new home, as Chad Henne has taken over in Miami. I am a big fan of Pennington and he could be a good temporary answer for a team trying to find a franchise QB.
Kyle Orton (RFA): Orton is a gritty player and Denver should plan on keeping him. I don’t see any team wanting to give up future draft picks for him however. Everybody should do themselves a favor and Google his drunkathlete.com pictures. Truly great stuff.
Jason Campbell (RFA): He is the most intriguing quarterback potentially available. I have always thought Campbell has been getting a raw deal in DC. He has a suspect cast of receivers and zero offensive line. Despite these facts he had the best statistical season of his career. I expect to see him wearing a Skins jersey on opening day, but I would also expect to see a prized rookie QB wearing one as well.
RB: LaDainian Tomlinson (UFA): There is no doubting LT’s status as a free agent, San Diego parted ways with one of the best backs in the last 15 years. LT is definitely past his prime but he will be picky with where he goes. I see Green Bay, Houston, and New Orleans as landing spots with DC as a dark horse.
Chester Taylor (UFA): After spending a few years backing up Adrian Peterson, Taylor could be looking to greener pastures. He is a great third down back and the Vikings should do their best to hold on to him.
WR: Terrell Owens (UFA): As usual there are many questions regarding TO’s future in the NFL. While his skills have diminished slightly, I still believe he is an elite receiver in the league. He showed flashes of brilliance despite being stuck in Buffalo with no quarterback and no offensive line. Chad Ochocinco claims that Owens is going to be lining up as a Bengal in 2010. That would be one of the most dynamic and mouthiest receiving tandems in years.
Brandon Marshall (RFA): Marshall is one of the most talented wideouts in the league, not to mention one of the most controversial. He has the ability to take over games and has showed that he does not need an elite quarterback to do so. Marshall has been upset with Denver management for some time and it will be very interesting to see how he will perform if he is forced to play on a tender. I would not be shocked if Denver moved him for some draft picks.
Vincent Jackson (RFA): The hulking wide receiver has proved to be among the elite in the NFL. Jackson has found remarkable chemistry with his outspoken quarterback Philip Rivers. The Chargers should make locking up Jackson one of their top priorities this spring.
O-Line: Marcus McNeil (RFA): Another key component of the San Diego offense is going to be looking for a paycheck this offseason. He is one of the most hyped left tackles in the game despite a substandard 2009. McNeil is grossly underpaid as he has clearly out-earned his rookie contract, he was a second round pick. He will definitely be looking for a hefty raise.
Willie Colon (RFA): I am sure all Steeler fans reading this are familiar with Colon’s inconsistent play. He moved to right tackle this season and did a much better job of keeping Big Ben off of the turf. He is an average run blocker but he should be good enough to earn a reasonably long term contract.
Bobbie Williams (UFA): Most people have that same reaction when hearing Williams name. He is one of the most underrated guards in the game and was arguably Cincinnati’s best lineman in a year in which they struggled to protect Carson Palmer. Expect the Bengals to lock up Williams and for him to continue to pave holes for Cedric Benson and the rest of the legal infraction laden backfield in Cincinnati.
Next week we will take a look at the defensive side of the ball.