As the NFL owners and players continue to try to lock down a new CBA deal, details are emerging of the newest proposal that suggests free agent players with 4 or more years of NFL experience will become unrestricted free agents. Prior to a new CBA, players with less than 6 years of experience with expired contracts were restricted, which essentially meant the team had a big advantage in re-signing the players. This agreement would affect the following players, making them unrestricted free agents instead of restricted ones:
4 year players: Jermon Bushrod, Remi Ayodele, Jeff Charleston, Marvin Mitchell, Chris Reis, Tory Humphrey, DeShawn Wynn, Usama Young
5 year players: Roman Harper, Lance Moore, Zach Strief, David Thomas, Leigh Torrence, Courtney Roby
All these players would be free to sign with any team and they could test the open market with no restrictions assuming the proposed new CBA finalizes. Prior to this new deal, these players were all restricted free agents. One has to assume that Bushrod, Harper, Moore and Thomas especially could prove difficult to re-sign as they will garner plenty of interest in an open market. The Saints may not want to re-sign all of the players listed above, but I think this news puts the Saints in a bad position, more than anyone, with Lance Moore. He’s already been vocally displeased with how things have played out and now that he can solicit big time offers from other teams the writing may be on the wall. The Saints will need to be very careful with Dave Thomas and Roman Harper, too, both players I believe are integral parts.
These following players were already going to be unrestricted free agents regardless of the new CBA rules: Heath Evans, Scott Shanle, Anthony Hargrove, Jonathan Goodwin, Darren Sharper, Jimmy Wilkerson, Julius Jones, Kawika Mitchell, Ladell Betts, Danny Clark, Pierson Prioleau, Matt Giordano
The Saints are going to have a lot of work on their hands as they attempt to re-sign all these players. That said, a lot of teams and players are in the same position, so there should also be a good opportunity to add some very capable starters and depth on the open market. While we may lose some key players, we could also snatch some very good ones away from other teams.