A few weeks ago, I wrote that the owners were trying to ruin free agency by pushing for the right to apply a “right of first refusal” on up to 3 or 4 of their unrestricted free agents. This would allow NFL teams to match any offer their players might receive on the open market. The owners reportedly lowered that number to 2 players, and then eventually abandoned the idea all together, per ESPN’s Chris Mortenson:
In fact, owners have now abandoned the right of first refusal issue on this year’s free agents. They’ll have 72-hour period to re-sign
This is excellent news for the Eagles and Redskins, who both have the cap space, the desire to make a big splash in the free agent waters, and just a few of their own key players to re-sign.
It’s scary news for the Cowboys, who should have one early objective and one early objective only – Re-sign Doug Free. The Cowboys will not control Free’s destiny, a scary proposition, considering there are teams out there like the Tampa Bay Bucs and Kansas City Chiefs that are miles below the salary cap floor that HAVE TO (as opposed to “want to”) spend a lot in free agency just to get their payroll to the salary floor. It’s rare that a good, healthy, 27-year-old, proven left tackle makes it to free agency, and at the risk of beating a dead horse, the Cowboys were insanely stupid not to franchise tag him. Doug Free’s agent must be salivating. The Cowboys of course will have that 72-hour window (per Mort’s tweet above) to get a deal done with Free, but Free and his agent would be foolish not to at least explore what offers might be waiting for him on the open market.
The Giants, meanwhile, have a slew of their own players that are free agents, such as Ahmad Bradshaw, Steve Smith, Kevin Boss, Deon Grant, Mathias Kiwanuka, Dave Tollefson, Chase Blackburn, Kevin Boothe, Keith Bullock, Barry Cofield, Derek Hagan, Gerris Wilkinson, and others. Had the NFL just gone to a free agent free-for-all, that would have been an utter disaster for the Giants, who would have likely found it impossible to talk to so many players at once. The 3-day window will give the Giants the opportunity to at least have a first crack at their long list of free agents, and slow down the process a bit.