Bills extend Merriman: a reaction
In a “normal year”, NFL teams could extend players up until the last Saturday of the season and bonus amounts would be prorated forward, with 2010 used as the first year of proration. It is a device to use up existing Cap room towards locking up key players on the team. Apparently the Bills were the only team to take advantage of this rule in 2010, inking a two-year extension with Shawne Merriman. Teams are still not completely sure how many years would be required for free agency when the new CBA does kick in.
In a year where the Chargers discarded him after five seasons, Merriman had a stat line of only 6 tackles in 2010 when given the extension. Whereas the Chargers management clearly wanted to move away from him, Merriman has a champion in Bills’ general manager Buddy Nix (formerly with the Chargers). When a player has that advocate in the front office, it serves them best to stay there with that advocate.
The uncapped year has saved the Chargers potentially tens of millions of dollars. In a normal year where four years rather than six would be required for free agency, they would have had to pay (or lose) Merriman, Malcom Floyd, Vincent Jackson, Darren Sproles and Marcus McNeill. Now, they may go into 2011 deciding to not pay any of them except for McNeill.
It appears that Merriman guarantee amount for this extension is $2.5 million with everything else on the come depending on performance. Although this is a far cry from the bounty that he had in mind a year ago, it was the pragmatic decision by Merriman to take what was there rather than wait through an uncertain future
Free agency flood
Assuming the threshold for free agency for players returns to four years, there will be as large a talent base for free agency as there has ever been, with the backlog of players who were “limbo” free agents this past year joining the new crop of free agents reaching the end of their fourth year in the league.
That is another ramification of the uncapped year that will not serve the players well. The flooding of the market with free agents will reduce prices.
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