ORLANDO, Fla. -- The first 3 weeks of uncapped free agency haven't quite lived up to expectations for the players.
Oh, there have been a handful of big-money deals to guys like Julius Peppers (6 years/$79.8 million, $42 million guaranteed), and Karlos Dansby (5 years/$43 million, $22 million guaranteed) and Antrel Rolle (5 years/$37 million, $15 million guaranteed), and some head-scratchers like the 5-year, $25 million ($11 million guaranteed) deal the Lions gave to wide receiver Nate Burleson and the 5-year, $22 million contract ($6.3 million signing bonus) the Broncos bestowed on defensive tackle Justin Bannan.
But for the most part, the owners have been very restrained in their spending. Many teams not only aren't signing free agents, they're taking advantage of the absence of the cap, which had a floor as well as a ceiling, to reduce costs by releasing older players who have outlived their big contracts. It's estimated that more than a third of the league's teams currently are under the $107.7 million floor in the 2009 cap. That number figures to only grow in the months ahead.
``Initially, when people heard about an uncapped year, they feared for unfettered spending,'' said Andy Brandt, who was an executive vice president with the Green Bay Packers and served as a cap and contract consultant with the Eagles last year. ``But the less appreciated part of an uncapped year is that teams will roll back to levels that they have not been at.
``Some teams will use this uncapped year and no floor in spending to get their costs under control, to work out their debt and to prepare themselves for the year ahead whenever a capped system, or any kind of system comes into play.''
Many teams are taking advantage of the uncapped year to get their costs in order, including the Eagles, who released several aging veterans with big contracts. But most teams realize a salary cap is in their best interest. And the players certainly have realized the folly of an uncapped system that makes players wait six years to become unrestricted free agents in a profession where the average career expectancy is about half that.
``I think the league 100 percent is committed to maintaining competitive balance,'' the NFC executive said. ``And I think everybody feels more confident of achieving that if there is some form of a cap.
``The easiest path to a (labor) resolution is by continuing a cap system. Maybe it will be similar to the one we've had. Maybe it will be slightly different. But it will be something that will keep it viable for all 32 teams to have a shot at competing (for the Super Bowl)."
More on the uncapped year's impact on free agency in Monday's Daily News.
The vote on the proposed changes to overtime in the postseason is scheduled for Wednesday. It needs to be approved by 24 of the 32 owners to pass.
The Chicago Tribune has a lengthy piece about Julius Peppers today. Among the things Peppers addresses is how he feels he will fit better in a big city like Chicago than he did in Charlotte. Makes you wonder just how he might have fit here in Philly, should things have happened that way.
"I'm out here in Chicago and there's just a lot of love,'' Peppers said. "I think back in Charlotte, I had been there so long that everybody got used to me. I mean, I got attention there and all that. But out here in Chicago, it feels a lot more genuine ...
"Truth be told, that's really one of the small reasons that I wanted to get out; because everybody knows your business in Charlotte,'' he says. "I wanted to try something different because out here in Chicago, Jordan was here. Pippen was here. They've got Urlacher. They've got hockey. They've got the baseball. In Charlotte, it was all about the Panthers.''
Cleveland GM Tom Heckert was in the Eagles' front office when the Birds traded up to get Andrews in the first round of the 2004 draft.
Of course, it seems like every player no longer with the Eagles is somehow mentioned as landing in Cleveland because of the Heckert tie.
LeSean McCoy was making an appearance in his hometown of Harrisburg and did an interview with the Patriot News. McCoy spoke with our Les Bowen last week.
In Harrisburg, he was asked about the Eagles' three quarterbacks.
"All three can start for any team," McCoy said. "Donovan is the leader, Vick is getting back to being Vick and Kolb is going to be a star in the league."