We keep hearing about the possibility of an “uncapped 2010.” What does this really mean for the Eagles? On the surface, it seems like it could benefit them. According to Forbes Magazine, the Birds are one of the Top 10 wealthiest franchises in the NFL. In fact, all four NFC East teams ranked in the Top 10. The Cowboys and Redskins ranked #1 and #2 in 2008; the Giants were #4 and the Birds #7.
The existing NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement will expire in March, 2011. A new deal must be in place by March of 2010 or the cap will go away. If this happens, and players are allowed to negotiate massive contracts, we can expect the league’s richest teams to go spend-crazy in free-agency. The problem with this scenario is if it occurs, and players realize they can land giant paydays, the chances they would agree to a salary cap in the next CBA would be slim to none. This would essentially end the league-wide competitive balance, i.e. parity.
The late Gene Upshaw had this to say in a USA Today article last May:
“If nothing is done by then  … I’m not going to try to sell players on cap again. I don’t know who will, but it won’t be me. Once we go through the cap, why should we get it again?”
Perhaps newly appointed player rep DeMaurice Smith will feel differently regarding this issue. If the cap does disappear, the players will be awarded more of the total team revenue, which means cash removed from the owners’ pockets. Owners don’t like it when they have to give away revenue. This could result in a work stoppage. A player strike – like we saw in 1982 and 1987 – hurts everyone, especially the fans. I remember watching “scab” players in 1982; it is not a pretty sight.
The possibility of an uncapped 2010 is one of the reasons many players are inking 1-year contracts. Guys like Sean Jones and Leonard Weaver will be looking for hefty deals next off-season. On the flip-side, teams don’t have to commit long-term money to players who might not fit into their future plans if they under-perform. It’s also the reason why several teams, like the Eagles and Cowboys, didn’t shell out big money to questionable players. These “questionable” players include aging guys who would constitute a waste of money. The more cash available for 2010, the better.
Some fans may want parity to go away. Personally, I dig a lot of teams being in the Super Bowl mix every season. Dynasties are boring. In addition, small market teams such as the Bills, Vikings and Jaguars would struggle to compete financially with the rich boys. This could potentially result in ownership change and relocation for one or more franchises.
There is still plenty of time to hammer out a new agreement. Let’s hope something can get done prior to next March. A bitter owners versus players dispute doesn’t sound very appealing. The last thing anyone should want is the NFL turning into Major League Baseball. That would be a bad thing.