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Posted by Mike Florio on January 29, 2009, 4:30 p.m. EST

Near the conclusion of the NFL Players Association’s annual “state of the union” press conference, NFLPA President Kevin Mawae told the assembled media and onlookers that the players are willing to “roll the dice” with an uncapped year in 2010.

Mawae’s comments came after interim Executive Director Richard Berthelsen reiterated the late Gene Upshaw’s long-held view that, once the salary cap goes away, it won’t come back.

But while the union continues to peddle the notion that a year with no salary cap will be a great thing for players, the reality is far different. With no salary cap, there also will be no salary floor.

This means that teams like the Bengals or Cardinals can, if they choose, spend as little as they want on player compensation, limited only by the minimum player salaries.

Another fact not widely known or appreciated is that special rules will apply to the “final eight” teams of 2009, preventing them from signing a free agent until they lose one of their own.

Perhaps the biggest misconception infecting the rank-and-file is that any player whose contract has expired and who has four years of service will be eligible to catch some of the money that will be falling from the sky. In reality, only players with six years of service will be eligible for unrestricted free agency. Those with only four or five will be restricted free agents.

The best example of this phenomenon is Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman. His rookie contract expires after the 2009 season. But since 2009 will be only his fifth year, he’ll be only a restricted free agent.

This will allow the Chargers to hold his rights for 2010 at a much lower tender offer.

Hopefully, Merriman and some of the other players will at some point realize that the uncapped year might not be as great as some might be making it out to be.


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Two hobos with nothing but a bottle of Ripple between them can sit under a bridge and kindly share the bottle.

Yet two sides in the NFL, an industry that is profitable beyond any reasonable expectation, can't divide up the billions they gross every year.

Could just be sabre rattling by the players union. Pretty early to be drawing any actual lines in the sand.

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I think something will get done with this. I was reading an article that was stating the if a players contract is up, he still is going to be a RESTRICTED free agent because they won't have 6 years in the league. This will allow thier team to retain them a a bargain basement price. No big payday, just another paycheck. I think the player given as an example was Merriman. You know he's going to get paid and would get screwed with this. Anyway, we will see...

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