In case you haven’t heard (or couldn’t care less), the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) will expire on March 5, meaning the NFL will have an uncapped year this season. (Let’s not even get into a potential strike for 2011 right now).
What does this mean for the Jets?
Under the no-cap rules, the Jets, with seven players who will be unrestricted free agents, cannot sign a player who is an unrestricted free agent, unless one of the seven Jets signs with another team. Note that a player can be an UFA this season if he has more than 6 seasons in the NFL; otherwise he will be a restricted free agent (RFA).
The seven UFA Jets are: LS James Dearth, DE Marques Douglas, K Jay Feely, LB Ryan Fowler, TE Ben Hartsock, LB/special teamer Larry Izzo and FB Tony Richardson.
Additionally, the terms of signing an UFA must be the same as the terms of the person who left the Jets. For example, if Richardson leaves the Jets and signs a 3 yr, $3 million contract, the Jets can only sign an UFA (think Julius Peppers), for a similar 1st yr. contract and then only a 30% bump for each remaining year.
Because of the no-cap season, players who normally would have been UFAs will be RFAs. This is huge because their market to make big bucks from other teams has all but eliminated.
The Jets will have 11 RFAs this season:
QB Kellen Clemens, CB Drew Coleman, WR Braylon Edwards, DT Howard Green, T Wayne Hunter, S James Ihedigbo, WR Brad Smith, S Eric Smith, RB-KR Leon Washington and WR-special teams ace Wallace Wright.
Teams can only make offers to RFAs from March 5 to April 15.
The Jets have a week to match the offer or be protected in the form of draft picks from teams that sign one of the players.