NFL Free Agency: Players With 4 or More Years of Service Likely to Be Unrestricted

Among the details coming to light in the leaked details of the potential new CBA is some of the rules regarding NFL free agency. It looks like an almost certainty that all players with four or more years in the league will be unrestricted. It also looks like franchise tags will be retained. Here is the quote:

If and when an agreement is reached, all players whose contracts have expired and have four or more years of experience are expected to be unrestricted free agents, sources familiar with the talks told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. Certain tags will be retained but that still is being discussed.

So, let's take a look at how this effects the Raiders—after the jump....
Most of this is lifted from an article I already posted, but with it becoming even more relevant, I thought it was worth revisting.

If all players with four or more years are unrestricted than Zach Miller, Samson Satele, and Michael Bush are going to slide from restricted to unrestricted free agents.

Under these circumstances I would fully expect Zach Miller to be one of the first players inked to a long term deal. By all accounts Miller seems to like being in Oakland and Oakland seems to enjoy having him, and he is certainly a vital part of the offense. The Raiders will pay him well.

This would likely be the end of Satele's tenure. He is good enough to start at center for an NFL team, and the Raiders are unlikely to match any starter level salary for a player whose replacement they just drafted. Hopefully the Raiders will then use some of the money earmarked for Satele in his restricted tender to sign a guard.

Michael Bush will be the biggest question from this group.

I have no doubt that the Raiders want Bush to return, and they showed their appreciation for Bush by placing the highest possible tender on him. However, he is a backup for the Raiders, and he is going to be a prized free agent.

Bush is arguably the best free agent back on the market—although he may lose that argument to Ahmad Bradshaw. A team is likely to offer Bush a deal worth more than the Raiders are willing or allowed to pay.

I say allowed because the other side of this is that the I have to believe that the new CBA is going to contain a salary cap. And after Al Davis went on a pre-lockout, front-loaded spending spree the Raiders already have a big chunk of coin devoted to 2011. I couldn't find an official number on this, but I did see that prior to any of the signings made this offseason the Raiders team salary was at just over $85 million. 

The Raiders have since added on, for 2011, Seymour's $15 million, Routt's $10 million, Wimbley's $10-11 million—if signs his franchise tag—and then approximately $2 million apiece for Loper and Eugene. That takes the Raiders to roughly $125 million. In 2009 the salary cap was $128 million.

we still have no idea what the cap will look like when teams return, other than there is likely to be one. Maybe the new CBA will allow teams a one-year cushion to prepare to get back to the cap, but there is almost certainly going to be on in 2012.

If there is a one-year grace period or something similar then that would allow the Raiders an opportunity to re-sign him. If there is a hard cap in 2011, then I am afraid Michael Bush is history. Let's poll the Nation again. Last time this question was asked 80 percent felt he would be back.
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