Even though potential free agents are still under contract, agents and teams still have conversations about the level of interest there may be between the player and a new team. It’s customary for these talks to heat up at the annual NFL Combine. When the new league year begins, both teams and players have their short list ready to go. That’s why free agency deals usually get done so fast.
In my most recent conversation with GMs and other top agents, I’m consistently hearing that a surprising number of teams are unwilling to discuss their interest in any free agents. One AFC South GM even said that he is “not going to participate at all this year regardless of when a new CBA is reached”.
One agent, that has 4 high profile free agents to be, said, “about 50% of the teams I spoke to have intimated they will have minimal interest in free agency this year”.
My guess is that the lack is interest in this year’s free agency comes from the top. Owners have been in savings/don’t spend mode for over a year now in preparation for a protracted labor war. I believe most are enjoying watching their cash pile up and hoping that draft picks will become even cheaper with a proposed rookie wage scale.
If we do see limited participation in the free agent market, prices could be soft for some really great players. However, if a new CBA deal gets reached with a salary pool floor similar to that of the previous deal, it would force teams to once again open their wallets.