NFL Free Agency 2010
2010 NFL Free Agency
The 2010 NFL free agency period is just around the corner, with the Superbowl just over and the NFL Combine on the way. These are the things that keep us National Football League fanatics warm until the NFL Draft in late-April.
There’s a big free agent class coming down the pike this year, though everything is complicated by the unresolved collective bargaining agreement. Unless there’s some kind of late agreement between the NFL owners and the NFL Players Union, special rules will be in place for an uncapped year.
Free Agency Picture in 2010
Yes, 2010 looks like it will be a season without an NFL salary cap, along with free agency. The rules stipulate that many of the players who would be unrestricted free agents in years past, will be restricted, though. I’m not expecting free agency to be nearly as dramatic as we’ve all expected for years now, but I could be wrong.
Further complicating the 2010 NFL free agent period is the stipulation that teams who finished in the Final 8 of the playoffs – Colts, Jets, Saints, Vikings, Ravens, Chargers, Cowboys, Cardinals – will be further restricted from signing free agents. The last I heard, those teams will have to lose a free agent before they can sign a free agent.
I’ll check on that and make sure that’s not some crazy idea someone posted on ESPN.
Meanwhile, we all wait in anticipation for 2011, when a failure to agree on the collective bargaining contract gets real sticky for owners, players and fans alike. We could be headed towards a lockout.
But enough of gloom and doom for now. We have another year of NFL football before we have to worry about that mess. Let’s talk about free agents.
What Is a Free Agent?
A free agent in pro sports is a player who is not currently “under contract”; that is, a rookie who is not signed with a team or a veteran whose contract years have expired on their last contract.
With rookie free agents, this is the term used to describe rookie football players who were not drafted in the NFL Draft. Since a rookie free agent can sign with any team in the NFL and might command a signing bonus of $10,000 to $50,000, this is often considered preferable to being drafted in the 6th and 7th rounds of the NFL Draft.
You might think that an undrafted rookie has no chance, but NFL stars like Tony Romo and Kurt Warner went undrafted, and 2008 NFL Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison was an undrafted free agent. Being drafted high means more money, but it is not the end-all of being a professional football player.
Veteran Free Agents
With veteran free agents, they tend to sign contracts between 1 and 7 years in duration. When that contact expires, they automatically become a free agent. Depending on the amount of time they have in the league, a player might become a restricted free agent or unrestricted free agent, with the longer tenured players “coming free” as unrestricted FA’s. Teams often have the option of making an offer on a player with an expiring contract, which switches that player from the unrestricted to restricted free agent status.
Also, teams will sometimes waive a player for “salary cap reasons”. Some contract have a “roster bonus”, where a player receives a big bonus check if he is still on the roster by a certain date. If that player is no longer considered worth that big hit on the salary cap, he will be released and become an unrestricted free agent. Every year, there are players considered valuable who are “salary cap casualties”, who go on to have productive seasons with other teams.
What Is a Restricted Free Agent?
A restricted free agent is a player who is not under contract with an NFL team, but whose current team retains the right to match any contract offer. So if a free agent for the Chicago Bears signs with the Green Bay Packers, the Bears would have a certain amount of time (usually 1 week) to match the offer and keep that player.
Teams will sometimes offer such a big signing bonus or such an inflated contract, they hope that the other team will refuse to match the offer. Look at Albert Haynesworth with the Washington Redskins last year. The same happened with Steve Hutchinson when he left the Seattle Seahawks to sign with the Minnesota Vikings. The Seahawks, mad about the structure of the contract, offered a similar contract to the Vikings’ receiver Nate Burleson, who has never lived up to the size of that contract in Seattle.
2010 Restricted Free Agents
Due to the stipulations of the collective bargaining agreement, every free agent in the 2010 free agent class who has just played out the terms of their contact is a restricted free agent. This means that guys who would have been free to sign huge contracts in recent years, might not be this year. For instance, in a normal year, Miles Austin would be an unrestricted free agent and be free to sign a huge contract to the highest bidder, after his breakout 2009 season.
Instead, Miles Austin is a restricted free agent, and Jerry Jones has the ability to match any offer made to Miles Austin. Currently, Miles Austin and the Dallas Cowboys are in negotiations to extend Austin’s service with the Cowboys franchise.
So with all of that in mind, here’s a list of the 2010 free agent class. Where possible, I’ll try to separate the lists of unrestricted and restricted free agents. This might not be accurate, but it’s accurate to the extent of my knowledge. It’s possible all the players listed under “unrestricted” might have restrictions, though I’m certain all of the restricted players do have the right-to-match restriction on their free agency.
2010 NFL Free Agent Quarterbacks
- Chad Pennington – Miami Dolphins
- Charlie Batch – Pittsburgh Steelers
- Kyle Boller – St. Louis Rams
- David Carr – New York Giants
- Daunte Culpepper – Detroit Lions
- Rex Grossman – Houston Texans
- Joey Harrington – New Orleans Saints
- Jon Kitna – Dallas Cowboys
- Chris Redman – Atlanta Falcons
Restricted Free Agent Quarterbacks – 2010
- Kyle Orton – Denver Broncos
- Jason Campbell – Washington Redskins
- Matt Moore – Carolina Panthers
- Tarvaris Jackson – Minnesota Vikings
- Kellen Clemens – New York Jets
- Brodie Croyle – Kansas City Chiefs
- Charlie Frye – Oakland Raiders
- Troy Smith – Baltimore Ravens
Also, Brett Ratliff of the Cleveland Browns is an “Exclusive Rights FA”, meaning the team will have no trouble retaining the 25-year old project quarterback. Ratliff came over in the Marc Sanchez deal during the 2009 NFL Draft.
2010 NFL Free Agent Running Backs
- Ronnie Brown – Miami Dolphins (special contract stipulation)
- Leon Washington – New York Jets
- Chester Taylor – Minnesota Vikings
- Willie Parker – Pittsburgh Steelers
- Kevin Faulk – New England Patriots
- Adrian Peterson – Chicago Bears (*not the All-Pro)
- Justin Griffith – Seattle Seahawks
- Tony Richardson – New York Jets
2010 Restricted Free Agents – Running Backs
Pierre Thomas came a whisker from being the Superbowl MVP, so expect the Saints to sign him for the next several years. Let’s see if the Cleveland Browns decided Jerome Harrison was worth giving a real look, or if Mangini decides to draft a runner as their guy of the future.
- Pierre Thomas – New Orleans Saints
- Jerome Harrison – Cleveland Browns
- Darren Sproles – San Diego Chargers
- Le’Ron McClain – Baltimore Ravens
- Cadillac Williams – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Mike Bell – New Orleans Saints
- LenDale White – Tennessee Titans
- Jerious Norwood – Atlanta Falcons
- Kenneth Darby – St. Louis Rams
- Kolby Smith – Kansas City Chiefs
- Jason Snelling – Atlanta Falcons
- John Kuhn – Green Bay Packers
- Naufahu Tahi – Minnesota Vikings
- Leonard Weaver – Philadelphia Eagles
2010 Free Agent Wide Receivers – Unrestricted
- Terrell Owens – Buffalo Bills
- Antonio Bryant – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Derrick Mason – Baltimore Ravens
- Kevin Walter – Houston Texans
- Isaac Bruce – San Francisco 49ers
- Chris Chambers – Kansas City Chiefs
- David Clowney – New York Jets
- Ronald Curry – St. Louis Rams
- Domenik Hixon – New York Giatns
- Muhsin Muhammed – Carolina Panthers
- Josh Reed – Buffalo Bills
- Bobby Wade – Kansas City Chiefs
- Kelley Washington – Baltimore Ravens
Restricted Free Agent WR’s – 2010
The top part of this list would be sexy, if these guys weren’t restricted. Expect most of them to sign long-term deals with their current teams. Who knows what mood Brandon Marshall or Josh McDaniels will be in come contract talks time. Both seemed to make up at a point last year, but it could sour any time.
Braylon Edwards will probably stay in New York, since the Jets showed faith to trade for him. Watch to see how the Anquan Boldin situation will turn out like in Arizona, as Steve Breaston could find himself a starter next year – with Matt Freakin’ Leinart throwing to him.
- Vincent Jackson – San Diego Chargers
- Miles Austin – Dallas Cowboys
- Brandon Marshall – Denver Broncos
- Braylon Edwards – New York Jets
- Malcolm Floyd – San Diego Chargers
- Steve Breaston – Arizona Cardinals
- Jason Avant – Philadelphia Eagles
- Mark Bradley – Tampa Bay Bucs
- Mark Clayton – Baltimore Ravens
- Lance Moore – New Orleans Saints
- Brad Smith – New York Jets
- Maurice Stovall – Tampa Bay Bucs
- Demetrius Williams – Baltimore Ravens
- Troy Williamson – Jacksonville Jags
- Jerheme Urban – Arizona Cardinals
Free Agent Tight Ends – Unrestricted
There’s not much in the free agent market as far as tight ends go. Pretty much, you have that handful of complete studs at the tight end position, then everyone else. Teams looking for a go-to guy will probably look to the draft, which has been good to teams in regards to tight ends the last couple of years. A couple of the restricted guys could be solid contributors on new teams.
- Alge Crumpler – Tennessee Titans
- Daniel Fells – St. Louis Rams
- David Martin – Miami Dolphins
- Randy McMichael – St. Louis Rams
- Leonard Pope – St. Louis Rams
- Matt Spaeth – Pittsburgh Steelers
Restricted Free Agent TE’s
- Anthony Fasano – Miami Dolphins
- Jeff Kings – Carolina Panthers
- Alex Smith – Philadelphia Eagles
- David Thomas – New Orleans Saints
More Notable Free Agents
Here’s a list of some of the most intriguing free agents from the offensive line and defensive side of the ball. I’m assuming people are less interested in these, at least for fantasy football purposes. There are several of these who might be among the most important free agent signings of the 2010 NFL offseason.
2010 Unrestricted NFL Free Agents
- Julius Peppers – Carolina Panthers
- Aaron Kampman – Green Bay Packers
- Leonard Little – St. Louis Rams
- Adewale Ogunleye – Chicago Bears
- Vince Wilfork – New England Patriots
- Richard Seymour – Oakland Raiders
- Aubrayo Franklin – San Francisco Niners
- Casey Hampton – Pittsburgh Steelers
- Ryan Pickett – Green Bay Packers
- Karlos Dansby – Arizona Cardinals
- Gary Brackett – Indianapolis Colts
- Leigh Bodden – New England Patriots
- Dunta Robinson – Houston Texans
- Darren Sharper – New Orleans Saints
- Roy Williams – Cincinnati Bengals
- Bobbie Williams – Cincinnati Bengals
- Kevin Mawae – Tennessee Titans
- Chad Clifton – Green Bay Packers
2010 Restricted NFL Free Agents
There are several intriguing players on this list, though most of those who key defenses will likely remain with their teams.
- Elvis Dumervil – Denver Broncos
- Ray Edwards – Minnesota Vikings
- Johnny Jolly – Green Bay Packers
- Marcus Spears – Dallas Cowboys
- Tony Brown – Tennessee Titans
- Barrett Ruud – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- DeMeco Ryans – Houston Texans
- Kirk Morrison – Oakland Raiders
- Shawne Merriman – San Diego Chargers
- Thomas Davis – Carolina Panthers
- D’Qwell Jackson – Cleveland Browns
- Thomas Howard – Oakland Raiders
- Derrick Johnson – Kansas City Chiefs
- Carlos Rogers – Washington Redskins
- Richard Marshall – Carolina Panthers
- Tramon Williams – Green Bay Packers
- Will Blackmon – Green Bay Packers
- Kevin Dockery – New York Giants
- Ellis Hobbs – Philadelphia Eagles
- Marlin Jackson – Indianapolis Colts
- Tim Jennings – Indianapolis Colts
- Usama Young – New Orleans Saints
- Nick Collins – Green Bay Packers
- Antoine Bethea – Indianapolis Colts
- Roman Harper – New Orleans Saints
- O.J. Atogwe – St. Louis Rams
- Bernard Pollard – Houston Texans
- Daniael Manning – Chicago Browns
- Gerald Sensabaugh – Dallas Cowboys
- Dawan Landry – Baltimore Ravens
- Jahri Evens – New Orleans Saints
- Logan Mankins – New England Patriots
- Marcus McNeill – San Diego Chargers
- Jared Gaither – Baltimore Ravens
- Willie Colon – Pittsburgh Steelers
- Donald Penn – Tampa Bay Buccanneers
- Jammal Brown – New Orleans Saints
- Alex Barron – St. Louis Rams
- Khalif Barnes – Oakland Raiders
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