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The NFL's RFA problem hits home

Posted by Albert Breer  June 14, 2010 06:25 PM

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The guy pictured to the left has reason to celebrate, and not just because he won the Super Bowl. That's Mike Bell, and he's the only one of the 212 fourth- and fifth-year restricted free agents to sign an offer sheet with another team and change locales this offseason (Brandon Marshall, Tony Scheffler and Co were traded.)

No kidding.

The National Football Post's Andrew Brandt points this out, in driving home the larger affect of all the rules changes that took place this offseason. Brandt contends that on the UFA market, it was business as usual, and uses deals given to Karlos Dansby and Julius Peppers proof.

The difference is that this year you had 212 players who'd have earned their freedom in the past being denied the chance to go out and cash in. Logan Mankins is among those guys.

And now, we get to hardball time. Brandt said, when he was the Packers' cap guru, he never slice a player's tender like a handful of teams are threatening to do tomorrow. But then, in the past, almost all the RFAs would sign after the offer-sheet period ended a week prior to the draft, so it almost never got to this point anyway with the third-year guys.

What's next? Well, once the 24-hour window for teams to cut the tenders passes, the next financial motivator for Mankins or Vincent Jackson or Donald Penn or whomever else is Week 1, when the game checks start rolling in. Each week, you lose a game check thereafter, and then Week 10 is the real drop-dead date for the player to avoid being right back where he started in 2011.

Bottom line: This could drag on a while. And with a guy as highly principled as I know Mankins to be, it won't be easy talking him off his stance.
News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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