Why the NFL and the NFLPA Will Never Allow an Uncapped 2010 Season

Sean CroweSenior Writer IFebruary 27, 2009

There’s been a lot of talk recently about the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement. Specifically, the upcoming “uncapped” 2010 season.

I, like you, have been wondering what this means for the Patriots.

Technically, the Patriots are a big-market team. They’re owned by a billionaire. If the NFL were to announce tomorrow that they were getting rid of the salary cap, it should help your favorite NFL team.

Maybe not as much as it would help the Dallas Cowboys or either New York team, but suffice to say the Patriots would be among the haves, while teams like the Buffalo Bills will be solidly among the have-nots.

The problem is, the NFL and the NFLPA built so many poison pills into the uncapped season that it might actually be harder to spend money than it is with a salary cap.

If you’re a free agent and you want to sign with a good team, you’re probably going to be out of luck in an uncapped NFL. There will be something called the “Final Eight Plan” that will limit the amount of free agents playoff teams can sign.

The salary cap disappears, but so does the salary floor. So the Miami Dolphins could turn their roster into something similar to the Florida Marlins if they so desired.

Players who have been in the NFL for four seasons expect to become unrestricted free agents. In an uncapped NFL, they’d be restricted for another two seasons.

Teams would have the right to use the transition tag on two players instead of one, giving them the right to match any offer made by another club. The franchise tag would be far easier to swallow, because one-year deals for huge money would be no problem with no salary cap.

Which means it will be increasingly harder for players to leave via free agency.

Player benefits would be a thing of the past should the NFL get to the uncapped season. Teams would no longer have to pay into 401Ks, severance pay, tuition assistance, and player annuity. The league typically puts about $225 million per year into these types of programs.

The league and the NFLPA are both smart. They know that what they have works. They may argue over how large a slice of the pie both sides should get, but they know the pie they have now is pretty good.

They’d rather not trade it in for the same pie from which Major League Baseball is eating.

So I’m not putting one ounce of effort into worrying about an uncapped year. I just don’t believe it’s going to happen. It didn’t happen in 2007, it won’t happen in 2010.

The NFL owners will threaten to lock out the players. Both sides will set deadlines. The players will walk out of the negotiations and threaten to decertify the union.

But in the end, after the 2009 season ends and before free agency begins, a new collective bargaining agreement will be signed. Everyone will be happy, except for Ralph Wilson, who will be confused.

But most importantly, an uncapped season will be avoided once again.

This article originally appeared on the New England Patriots Examiner page. To read more articles like this one, check them out here.

Sean Crowe covers the New England Patriots for Examiner.com and writes a bi-weekly column for Sports-Central.org.

He is a Senior Writer and an NFL Community Leader at Bleacher Report. You can email him at scrowe@gmail.com.