Lets get one thing clear right off the bat. These shenanigans are all about something that will happen in 2010. Lets keep our eyes on the ball and remember that we have at least two Superbowls to win before we start worrying about the effects of a new collective bargaining agreement (heretofore referred to as CBA). Devery needs to stop dropping balls and Reggie needs to learn to run straight ahead before we can start freaking out about the proverbial you know what hitting the fan. There are bigger issues at hand. FOCUS! Now that thats out of the way, we can get down to business.
As I am sure you all heard, the NFL owners unanimously voted to opt out of the current CBA two years early, in 2010. For those of you who live under a rock and haven't heard, WHOOP! there it is. This post will assume some prior knowledge of the situation, so bone up. If you are like me, your sorta understand this whole thing but you acknowledge that you have a life and a job and no time to examine every aspect, viewpoint and advantage/disavantage from both the players and owners side. There is a word for people like that. Lawyer. The basics are clear to me and thats good enough.
Of course, any real Saints fan would have to immediately ask, "Well Dave, what does this mean for us fans and the team itself?" Honestly, my first reaction was this isn't good. No cap? Benson is cheap as it is and our team doesn't have nearly the amount of money that teams like the Patriots, Cowboys, Packers et al have. They will just stockpile players like canned goods and bottled water before a hurricane. But then I took a deep breath and a step back and, well, I found this article, from Pat Kirwan.
But there are three main trigger points that will go off in 2010 if there isn't a new CBA in place, and they may offset the fear of life with no salary cap. They are: 1) free agency will require six years of service [Note by Saintsational, Pro Football Talk claims that free agency will only require five years of service, not six.] (instead of four years in 2010 and five years in 2011); 2) teams will have three tags to use to restrict free agents instead of one tag, as they do now; and 3) teams that go deep in the playoffs could have some spending restrictions.
That should help relieve some fears. The first two triggers will greatly reduce the amount of free agents available in the off-season and the third one is just a safety. Read the article for detailed explanations.
One of the other positive things I hope will come out of this will be the elimination of huge contracts awarded to top draft picks before ever even stepping out on the field. I will spare you my rant about the ludicrous disparity in salary between proven veterans and untested hopefuls but this is one of the issues the owners want to address and something I feel should be changed.
The owners also want a change in the system to distribute a higher percentage of player salaries more to veterans than to unproven rookies. Their argument is based on a disparity in salaries that leaves them spending far more on unproven rookies than on dependable veterans. - NFL.com
Its not all peaches and cream however. My concern is that this means we the fans (season ticket holder here) are gonna start footing the bill. Under the current rules, owners payed just under 60% of their revenues toward player salaries, a requirement. With increasing player salaries, this leaves less and less money for the team to spend in other NFL required areas i.e. stadium upgrades, one of the reasons owners are unhappy. This means the possibility greatly exists for increased ticket prices and $12 beers until something changes in 2010 or 2011. There is a silver lining to this issue however. The league is kicking around the idea of adding a seventeenth regular season game to give teams an extra opportunity to make money. I'm cool with that.
Worst of all, serious problems could be abound in 2011. If players and owners don't come to an agreement following a 2010 no cap year, there could be a lockout ala the NHL a couple of years ago. A year without football? Hold me...I'm scared. But again, this is two years away. The owners and players have plenty of time to come to an agreement, and in all honesty, it would seem completely ridiculous to me if they couldn't. What the Saints need to do in the two years leading up to the possible no cap year is to play well. Really well. Success always brings power and money. Those who have it always seem better off in these situations. The team should put themselves in the best position possible should a no cap year or a no cap league occur.
Feel free to weigh in on this. I know there are a lot of different angles and perspectives on this, and thats part of the reason why it will be very difficult for players and owners to reach a fair agreement. What do you think?