ESPN is at it again. Did you hear that 2010 will be uncapped if a new Collective Bargaining Agreement isn't reached before then? A few new rules will go into effect if that happens, including an extra transition player, a restriction on conference championship game participants signing free agents, and an increase from 4 to 6 years of service time before a player can be eligible for unrestricted free agency. First thing, this is not going to ever happen. These provisions are mutually unacceptable to both labor and management, and it's their nature as poison pills to prevent an uncapped season.
The second thing is, this article is laughably, completely stupid. John Clayton's belief seems to be that having a bunch of starters locked up today means you're well-positioned in an uncapped year. Having less starters locked up, or having older starters, means you're poorly positioned. Presumably, the reasoning is that less quality players will hit free agency.
Clayton's assumption that it matters at all who a team's starters are today is the dumbest part. The league turns 1/3 of itself over every year. There are 2 drafts between now and the 2010 season, and a free agency period before next season.
Anyway, Hall of Fame John claims that the Broncos are the second worst-positioned team for an uncapped season, because only 11 of its starters from today are under contract past 2010.
2. Denver Broncos: Mike Shanahan is paying the price for relying too much on free agency and trades and not doing as well in the draft. The Broncos' biggest problem isn't which players they lose. Their biggest problem is finding replacements, particularly for a defense that is still one of the oldest starting units in football. They have 11 starters under contract in 2010. Linebacker D.J. Williams, perhaps their best young defender, is a free agent after this season. Safeties John Lynch and Marlon McCree are free agents after this season.
Defensive end John Engelberger is free in 2010, when he will be 33. On offense, Tom Nalen is 37 and entering the final year of his contract. This is a roster that is in transition, which is not good as the uncapped year approaches.
So, because we signed too many free agents, we should be worried about not being able to sign as many free agents in 2010. We should especially worry now about players who will certainly be retired by 2010, like Nalen and Lynch. And then there's DJ Williams. His impending free agency after this season doesn't relate at all to 2010. if we re-sign him, he'll be under contract. If not, he won't. I'd be very surprised if he goes anywhere. This is some hard-hitting, insightful ESPN.com analysis for you.
Floyd Little would definitely make the Hall of Fame before I'd send John Clayton (or the even-worse Len Pasquarelli) to the "writer's wing." Looks like Floyd just made my list, Firstfan.