The masses were overjoyed when the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) and the League came to terms on the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) two weeks ago. It seemed as if more people were more concerned about the National Football League (NFL) settling their differences than the Congress Members agreeing upon the debt ceiling conflict. The owners were glad that they were not going to lose any money. The fans were going to have their football and the players were going to be able to play the game they love.
Some players were looking forward to striking it rich via free agency. On the other hand, some of those same players ended up, not only getting their feelings hurt, but ended up on the outside looking in.
When the terms of the new CBA were released many felt, including yours truly, that the veterans were going to be the real big winners. The rookie-earning potential was drastically reduced and the difference in salary was supposed go to the proven veterans. The NFLPA also negotiated a salary floor where all teams would have to spend at least $89 million. Some smaller-market teams spent less than $60 million last year. That extra $29 million was expected to open up the flood gates for the seasoned veterans.
Some players like Nmandi Asomugha, Jason Babin and Cullen Jenkins all hit the lottery in the City of Brotherly Love. The New York Jets took care of two of their own in Santonio Holmes and David Harris. Some players like Kevin Kolb, Donovan McNabb, Chad Johnson and Albert Hanyesworth were traded and should have a better opportunity to succeed with their new teams.
But then there are the players who were looking to cash in on this new CBA, only to be shown the cruel side of the NFL. Just over this past weekend, three local favorites unceremoniously left their respective camps. The former New York Giants tight end Kevin Boss, after not feeling the love from Big Blue, signed with the Oakland Raiders. Boss has transformed himself into a solid tight end and his departure will leave a major void in the Giant’s offense.
The former Jets Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery, two of their best wide receivers from last season, were shown the door this weekend. Defensive end Shaun Ellis decided to pack his bags and sign with the rival New England Patriots. Edwards realized that the Jets were not going to meet his contract demands after they resigned Holmes to his lucrative contract and also signed wide receiver Plaxico Burress last week. Edwards signed with the 49’ers for far less than he was expecting.
Cotchery knew the writing was on the wall, especially after the team signed Derrick Mason on Saturday. He requested to be released and the Jets granted his wish. Now Cotchery is hurt and it is going to be hard for him to negotiate with another team right now. After watching him make one spectacular catch after another and play hurt throughout his stint with Gang Green, it is going to be hard seeing him in another uniform.
Ellis was the Jets most consistent defensive linemen for the past decade. However, being an 11-year veteran, the Jets felt that he did not have that much left in the tank. The Patriots thought otherwise and jumped at the opportunity to sign him. The ironic thing is that the last time the Patriots ran into Ellis, he sacked Tom Brady twice in the AFC Divisional Playoff game. Talk about leaving a lasting impression.
This scenario is being played out throughout the League. Running back Ronnie Brown was looking forward to a big pay day, but had to settle for an one-year, $1 million contract well below what he was looking for. Randy Moss was so frustrated, he just decided to retire.
These free agents are not the only disgruntled players in the NFL. The Eagles’ DeSean Jackson, Giants’ Osi Umenyiora and Titans’ Chris Johnson are among some of the big name players who are not fully participating in their respective camps. Jackson and Johnson are two of the most electrifying players in the League, but they are both way underpaid based on their skill sets and productivity.
Osi also feels that he has outproduced his contract. The Giants feel otherwise. They signed the defensive end to a seven-year, $41 million dollar contract back in 2005. Now he has had two excellent seasons and three seasons where he was either hurt or underperformed. Remember, he was benched at one point two seasons ago. Osi claims that the Giants promised to renegotiate his contract last year but the organization refutes that declaration. It was allegedly a verbal confrontation between Giants General Manager Jerry Reese and Osi. These are two of the most liked individuals in the NFL. Therefore, few are taking sides, at least publicly. I just hope that they can resolve this issue and get Osi back on the field in Giant Blue.
It is apparent that everybody aint Happy-Happy right now. There are some players who felt shunned by lack of interest they received over the past week. Even some players under contract are feeling under appreciated. Most benefited from the new CBA, while others were short handed.