NFL commissioner Roger Goodell admitted over the weekend that an uncapped year in 2010 looks like, to use his words “virtually certain.”
One of the main things that it does is throw free agency into a tailspin, not only for the Tennessee Titans, but other teams as well. There are many rules governing the NFL that would be altered because of the absence of a salary cap.
As it would occur in regards to the Titans, it would mean that six of Tennessee’s 17 free agents would be only restricted free agents, as opposed to unrestricted.
The six Titans players who would be denied unrestricted free agency are defensive tackles Tony Brown and Kevin Vickerson, defensive end Dave Ball, running back LenDale White, tight end Bo Scaife, linebacker Stephen Tulloch.
It will be interesting to see how the Titans put tenders on these players, because the low tender is tied directly to the player’s original draft status, no matter what club might have selected them.
The lowest tender allows teams to recoup a same-round pick if it loses a restricted free agent. If the player was undrafted, as in the case of Tony Brown, who has developed into the Titans’ best interior defensive lineman, then Tennessee will be forced to place a higher tender on Brown (such as a first-round or second-round level) on him to retain his services or receive compensation if he signs elsewhere.
As for the remainder of this group, White was a second-round pick in 2006, while Ball (drafted by San Diego) and Tulloch were fourth-rounders. Vickerson was taken in the seventh round by the Miami Dolphins in 2005.
Scaife’s situation is special because he was tendered as the Titans franchise player last season. That put his salary at $4.46 million in 2009, and by collective bargaining rules he would have to be tendered at a higher level than that in order for the Titans to retain his rights.
The Titans would likely either have to work out a long-term deal to keep the 2005 sixth-round pick, or let him walk away in free agency.
Making things even more interesting is that three of the six – Scaife, Tulloch and White – are all represented by Drew Rosenhaus. Of that trio, Tulloch would appear to be the first priority.
As for the Titans other 11 free agents, they will not be affected directly by the lack of a salary cap in 2010, unless one of them is given the franchise tag or the transition tag. With an uncapped year, the Titans will have both at their disposal to retain any player they cannot come to an agreement with on a new long-term contract.
That group includes stalwarts such as linebacker Keith Bulluck, defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch, center Kevin Mawae and punter Craig Hentrich (who is likely to retire), as well as guard Eugene Amano, cornerbacks Nick Harper and Rod Hood, safeties Donnie Nickey and Kevin Kaesviharn, tight end Alge Crumpler and defensive end Jevon Kearse.