Free agency this year loaded with talent, not big spendershttp://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/nfl/ne ... index.html
Although there are four teams with more than $30 million in cap room with the dawn of free agency two weeks away, I expect this to be a stingy season for one of the best free agent classes ever.
Why? Three reasons:
1. The new young class of general managers are far more interested in building through the draft than with their checkbooks. Consider this point from one such young-turk general manager of a team that in the past has spent generously in the March free-agent market: "I'm more concerned with keeping our own team intact than spending money on players we could use, but who would create problems of their own." Although this team needs a wide receiver and pass rusher, this general manager fears the impact of high-priced imports on his locker room at a time when he's not going to be able to pay everyone big money.
2. The flat cap is dictating many decisions. NFL teams have been told to expect a cap of around $121 to $122 million over the next two years, with marginal increases after that, beginning in 2015. And so smart teams snug to the cap -- Baltimore, Seattle, Atlanta, the Giants -- will lead the way by not jumping out in the early days of the market for any player other than a reasonably priced one. "More than anything this year, I believe you will see teams saying, 'patience is a virtue,'" one general manager said over the weekend. That means that the secondary market, which usually occurs about two weeks after free agency begins in mid-March, will be a busier time than the early days of free agency.
3. Dallas and Washington, usually big players in March madness, won't be free spenders because of their 2012 salary cap penalties. Washington club officials, still bitter about being docked $36 million for cap violations the team never agreed with, will have $18 million less to spend on the cap this season. And the Cowboys will be $5 million lighter also from the same cap sanctions. A market without Dan Snyder and Jerry Jones throwing money around is not as fun, and certainly not as lucrative for players and agents used to their collective largess.