by: Aaron Weinberg
2011 NFL Work stoppage was reported to be as a "near certainty" back in March.
Not a heckeva lot has changed since then.
One of the major reasons was to implement a rookie salary pay structure, limiting what rookies can make. The union opposes this change and work stoppage appears imminent. If neither the players union or the owners can work out a new agreement, then 2010 will be an uncapped season and 2011 might not happen at all due to work stoppage.
An uncapped season might sound like doomsday for owners but they've set up new free agency rules in the event of an uncapped season.
1. Players can only enter free agency after six seasons in the NFL rather than the four currently stipulated.
2. Teams will get an extra transition tag and can use the two transition tags with their franchise tag, rather than choosing one or the other.
3. The teams that finished amongst the final four in the playoffs cannot sign an unrestricted free agent until they lose one free agent of their own.
4. The next four teams will have restrictions of their own in free agency, so they cannot afford any of the elite players in free agency.
This last rule was enacted this year but will carry over to the uncapped season.
5. A player's base salary can't raise more than 30 percent from one year to the next.
The uncapped year affects several Seahawks, including starters Chris Spencer, Rob Sims and Tapp.
Here's the full list. Bold indicates restricted free agent. Normal indicates unrestricted free agent.
Essentially, the rules under the uncapped year make it much easier for the Seahawks to re-sign their free agents. Starters center Chris Spencer, guard Rob Sims and off-and-on starter defensive end Darryl Tapp all would have been UFA in 2010. But, due to the rule change, they’ll be RFA.
Restricted free agents are much easier to retain because the old team the player was on has first right of refusal.
They can also sign the player to a tender, which means if another team signs the player to an offer sheet, and the old club doesn’t match the offer, the new club must give the old club compensation in the form of draft picks. The draft pick depends on how much money the tender was.
For instance, if the Seahawks tendered Chris Spencer and another team signed him to an offer sheet and the Seahawks refused to match the offer, the other team would have to compensate Seattle with a first round draft pick, corresponding with where Spencer was drafted.