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News and Notes as we approach Free Agency

Compensatory picks are now part of a lot of front office plans and result in lessoning the blow of losing a team’s top free agents. One thing to keep in mind is, with so many teams releasing players in order to be cap compliant, these players (once signed) do not factor into the formula used to arrive at compensatory picks.

In order for a team to even be considered for one of these picks, that the league gives out (the following year) to lessen the blow of teams losing players through free agency, is that you have to have lost more players, from a numbers standpoint, than you have signed. Only true free agents who enter the market with an expiring contract are factored in to the formula. The JJ Watt’s, Kyle Van Noy’s of the world do not count as a player added for this reason. Trust me, teams have tote boards and keep score of how many free agents they lose, the money paid to each, and weigh that vs how many free agents they acquire in the same manner. The third component used to determine these picks is PRODUCTION, which obviously cannot be derived until after the 2021 season.

The “legal tampering” period that begins on Monday just makes official what has been going on for weeks in the league. Markets have already been set and parameters for individual deals agreed upon. Teams that snooze, LOSE in this period. Especially when it comes to executing strategy to keep your own players. In a lot of cases teams will approach players, who they are considering releasing, about a salary reduction. Some do it, some don’t but in each case that players agent has to gage the market to gather intel to make an informed decision. I’d rather be employed at 5 million a year than unemployed at 10, if I know ahead of time that the market won’t support my prior salary. I always prefer to be dealing with an experienced and knowledgeable agent during these times. They will be able to gather this information and also have confidence that a salary reduction, might just be the best deal for their client. Inexperienced player representation may be very reluctant to agree to a contract reduction, even though it’s the best thing for the player and better than anything he could get on the street. The agent’s reputation and individual agenda might hurt his chances to acquire new talent/clients. I always like to be aware of this and give those agents extra time to get their ducks lined up. Expecting a quick decision in this case is unrealistic from a team’s point of view.

My point is, tons of information has already been exchanged and the legal tampering period will no-doubt be littered with rumors of actual agreements, next week. Real live action usually happens way before the dates on the calendar. The green flag might get dropped on Monday, but trust me, the checkered flag is already dropping on many deals around the league.

One more thing- Just because your team has released a player in a cap casualty move, doesn’t mean he’s not coming back. Teams actually do this so that player can do just what we mentioned above. Testing the market. From a team’s standpoint, they might just be using this exercise as a way to let other teams deliver a message that they knew would not be welcomed. I’d rather have another team tell a player his value was “way lower” and he’d have to take a substantial pay cut. The HOME team can then come back in to “save the day” if you follow.

The other thing that fans may be seeing that can be misleading is- your team being slightly under the cap, is only the start of their cap compliant exercise. It does not mean; your team has money to start signing other team’s free agents. Keep in mind that each team has to tender exclusive rights players and restricted free agents. Depending on their strategy that could be an expensive proposition and could cost a team anywhere from 3-5M or more, to just preserve rights of these younger players. It goes into effect on the first day of the league year. It’s the first list I have always looked at, when the new league year starts. Who was tendered at what level and can I identify a talent that might fit with our schemes for a reasonable price. Including guys who don’t get tendered at all. Strategic moves, like this, are littered throughout this pre-free agency landscape.

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