SBD/Issue 121/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Top NFL Free Agents Score Record Deals, But Second-Tier Could Suffer

Wilfork's New Contract With The Patriots
Makes Him One Of The Highest-Paid DTs

For all the "fuss about teams tightening purse strings on the first weekend of free agency" in the NFL, "new standards were set for contracts for edge rushers (Julius Peppers), 3-4 nose tackles (Vince Wilfork), and safeties (Antrel Rolle)," according to Albert Breer of the BOSTON GLOBE. In addition, deals for LB Karlos Dansby and CB Dunta Robinson "trumped blockbusters signed by positional counterparts Bart Scott and Asante Samuel" in '09 and '08, respectively. But NFL player agent Jason Chayut, who negotiated Robinson's contract with the Falcons, said, "I wasn't surprised by the top-tier guys at their positions getting paid; those guys are always going to get paid. The second-tier guys were the ones who will suffer" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/7).'s Pete Prisco wrote fiscal responsibility "seemed to give way to fiscal madness" at the start of free agency over the weekend. Money was "thrown around like some baseball teams do it." Prisco: "A free-agent group, which some personnel people said was the old, the lame and the sick, seemed to cash in big" (, 3/7).'s Peter King: "Look at the number of players earning at least $2 million a year who changed teams on day one of free agency in 2009 versus 2010. ... What changed? Nothing that I see" (, 3/8). In N.Y., Judy Battista writes the opening weekend of free agency featured "some of the big deals that assured us that even the drive to save money for a lockout could not entirely snuff out the blood lust for victory" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/8).

NEW-LOOK REDSKINS: In DC, Thomas Boswell noted the Redskins "didn't so much as twitch to grab their Big Checkbook" and sign Peppers and Dansby, the NFL's "two gaudiest free agents." Neither Peppers nor Dansby "plays a position where the Redskins have major needs," and Boswell wonders, "Is it possible that, under Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen, the Redskins might give top priority to fixing what's horribly broken, and has been ignored for years, instead of chasing the splashiest names on the market? Sure looks like it." Boswell added, "Spending to win is good. Wasting money, then making it back from your customers, isn't" (WASHINGTON POST, 3/7). Allen last week said the Redskins are searching for "more and more depth for competition at every position." The BOSTON GLOBE's Breer wrote this is the "surest sign yet that owner Dan Snyder has ceded influence in the football operation, and placed trust in Shanahan and Allen" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/7).'s King reports Shanahan and Allen "worked on a long-term plan for the team in their first month on the job and gave it to Snyder just before the Super Bowl." Allen: "He said, 'Good. Do what you guys think is best'" (, 3/8).

RISK FACTOR: A BOSTON GLOBE editorial written under the header, "NFL: Socialism Makes Everyone Rich," states,"There is socialism in the United States. It’s called the National Football League. In fact, this fantastically successful experiment in corporate socialism is now at risk of being ruined by owners and players who are threatening to behave as rational market actors." NFL owners are "complaining that a salary cap based on the players receiving" nearly 60% of total gross revenue has "become an unbearable burden for some franchises." The owners and the NFLPA are "making an omelet out of a golden egg and threatening to kill the goose that laid it" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/7).

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