One faithful reader e-mailed me this weekend, asking for details on restricted free-agency rules and what it would mean to have tendered more of the possible restricted guys. His concern was the amount of turnover there could be on the roster.
A quick recap: Seven players were tendered RFA offers. Of those, four have already played four NFL seasons, meaning if the new collective bargaining agreement reverts back to its pre-2010 form as it regards to free agency, the tender offers will not matter and those players (Breaston, Lutui, Sendlein, Branch) will be unrestricted. Bringing them all back in that scenario is not a lock by any stretch.
There’s also the analysis of the rest of the list and those RFAs who weren’t tendered, which will make them UFAs when a new CBA is reached — guys like Ben Patrick (a four-year guy) and Stephen Spach at tight end, Kenny Iwebema at defensive end and cornerback/special teamer Michael Adams. I’d expect some of them to come back, although not all. It’s impossible to know what the salary comparisons were to tender or not to tender because that is all TBD with the new CBA.
Regardless, there is potential for major roster change. That probably shouldn’t be a shock after a 5-11 season. Churning the bottom of the roster always is possible after every season, and with so many free-agents-to-be NFL-wide, it may be even more likely this offseason (once the CBA is determined). What that will mean specifically for the Cards is impossible to know. They’ve already plotted out free agency — they, like every team, needed to be ready by last weekend when free agency was originally supposed to start — and have players targeted. Does that mean current players would be on the backburner in case replacements are signed? Sure it could. It will also be interesting to see the demand on certain lower-tier players in a flooded market.
UPDATE: Bob in the comments has asked me to explain tender offers. In a nutshell, a tender offer to a restricted free agent gives teams the right of first refusal or at least compensation for a player if he leaves. For instance, take tendered Tim Hightower. We don’t know exactly what level he was tendered, but for the sake of argument, let’s say he was tendered at a second-round level. That means, for a set salary (last year it was in the ballpark of $2 million, if I recall correctly) the Cards hold his rights. If Hightower signs as a free agent elsewhere, the Cards have two options: Match the contract he signed, or let Hightower go and receive a second-round pick in return. If he didn’t sign anywhere else, he can sign the tender offer for the scheduled salary (or, in theory, sign a long-term deal).
Tags: Alan Branch, Ben Patrick, Deuce Lutui, free agency, Kenny Iwebema, Lyle Sendlein, Michael Adams, Stephen Spach, Steve Breaston
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