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A quickie tutorial on the final league year

The NFL and the players union is hunkering down for an interesting offseason. Unless the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is extended or a new one reached in the next couple of months, 2010 will be the final year of the current CBA.

The current agreement actually calls 2010, "The Final League Year," which sounds like something out of a disaster film, with stadiums crashing to the ground, team uniforms burning, and people gathering in churches to pray for the disaster to end.

So why should you care about CBAs, their negotiations and so forth?

Because it affects the Dolphins' -- and every team's ability -- to add or lose players this offseason. As March 2011 is scheduled to end the collective bargaining agreement, rules change for 2010. The NFL today sent out the following quick tutorial on the coming crisis offseason and what it all means.

The questions and answers are self-explanatory. If you have other questions, leave them in the comments section and I'll try to answer.

Q: When does the CBA expire should there be no extension to the agreement?

A: In March of 2011.

Q: Will there be a college draft in 2011?

A: Yes.

Q: What is the "Final League Year" in the current agreement?

A: The "Final League Year" is the term used in the CBA to refer to the last year of the agreement. Without a further extension of the CBA, the “Final League Year” would be the 2010 League Year, which begins on March 5.

Q: What are the differences between the "Final League Year" and any other "0League Year?"

A:The principal differences are that in the "Final League Year" there is no salary cap and there are substantial additional restrictions on player free agency and reductions in player benefits.

Q: Are current player benefits affected in the Final League Year?

A: We expect current player benefits to decline in the Final League Year. The union agreed that in the Final League Year, clubs would be relieved of their obligation to fund numerous benefit programs. Examples include second career savings (401K), player annuity, severance pay and performance-based pay. The total league-wide contributions to such plans in 2009, the last capped year, were in excess of $325 million or more than $10 million per club.

Q: Are retired player benefits affected in the Final League Year?

A: Commissioner Goodell has stated in a letter to the NFL Alumni Association Board of Directors that there will be no reduction in pension or disability payments to retired players during the Final League Year (2010). Since at least the fall of 2007, NFL owners have consistently agreed and planned that they will not reduce the funding for pension or disability benefits for retired players. Nor will they reduce funding for the 88 Plan during the Final League Year.

Q: What determines an unrestricted free agent in the Final League Year (2010)?

A: In capped seasons, a player whose contract has expired becomes an unrestricted free agent if he has four or more accrued seasons. In the Final League Year (2010), a player whose contract has expired becomes an unrestricted free agent only if he has six or more accrued seasons. An unrestricted free agent is free to sign with any club with no compensation owed to his old club.

Q: What determines whether a player is a restricted free agent in the "Final League Year?"

In capped seasons, a player whose contract expires becomes a restricted free agent if he has three accrued seasons. In the Final League Year (2010), a player whose contract expires becomes a restricted free agent if he has three, four or five accrued seasons. The first refusal/compensation rights of restricted free agents remain unchanged in the Final League Year.

Q: In addition to the right to designate a franchise (or transition) player each capped year, can clubs designate additional players in the Final League Year?

A: Yes, one additional player can be tagged. In capped years, a club may designate a franchise player or a transition player. In the final league year (2010), a club may designate one additional transition player. A transition player must be offered a minimum of the average of the top 10 salaries of the prior season at the player’s position or 120 percent of the player’s prior year’s salary, whichever is greater. A transition player designation gives the club a first-refusal right to match within seven days an offer sheet given to the player by another club after his contract expires. If the club matches, it retains the player. If it does not match, it receives no draft pick compensation from that club.

Q: What is the Final Eight Plan?

A: During the Final League Year, the eight clubs that make the Divisional Playoffs in the previous season have additional restrictions that limit their ability to sign unrestricted free agents from other clubs. In general, the four clubs participating in the championship games are limited in the number of free agents that they may sign; the limit is determined by the number of their own free agents signing with other clubs. They cannot sign any UFAs unless one of theirs is signed by another team.

For the four clubs that lost in the Divisional Playoffs, in addition to having the ability to sign free agents based on the number of their own free agents signing with other clubs, they may also sign players based on specific financial parameters. Those four only will be permitted to sign one unrestricted free agent for $5.5 million (estimated) or more in year one of the contract, plus the number of their UFAs who sign with another team. They also can sign any unrestricted free agents for less than $3.7 (estimated) million in year one of the contract with limitations on the per year increases.

In the case of all final eight teams, the first year salary of UFAs they sign to replace those lost cannot exceed the first year salary of the player lost with limitations on the per year increases.

Q: Is there an Entering Player Pool (Rookie Pool) in the Final League Year?

A: There may be. The CBA provides that the league has the unilateral right to keep or eliminate the rookie pool in the Final League Year.

Q: Is there a Minimum Team Salary in the Final League Year?

A: There is no Minimum Team Salary in the Final League Year. The Minimum Team Salary in 2009 is $107,748,000, meaning each team is required to allocate more than $107 million to player costs (not including benefits). The team salary cap in 2009 was $123 million.

Q: Are there individual player minimum salaries in the Final League Year?

A: Yes, but they rise at a rate somewhat slower than player minimum salaries rise in capped years.

Q: Do any player contract rules from capped years remain in place for the Final League Year?

A: Yes, some rules like the “30% increase rule” are still in effect in the Final League Year for player contracts signed in capped years. That rule restricts salary increases from 2009 to 2010. For example: a player with a $500,000 salary in 2009 would be limited to annual salary increases of $150,000 ($500,000 x 30%) beginning in 2010.


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DAMN !!! war and peace was shorter than that blog but it was imformative.

good work armando.

Wow, I have a headache...

The only question I have is can we go out and get vincent jackson and wilfork or can they be franchised?

Both Jackson and Wilfork can be franchised, Boulderfin.

But having spoken with Wilfork, that would create a problem for the Patriots. He said that is NOT something he's going to be happy about and he'll let the Pats understand that.

LOL @ carlito

Not only can jackson be franchised , he's a restricted free agent without a new cba.

I just hope there is football in 2011

I have a headache also, Carlito. I not only had to read it, but understand it and be able to explain it.

Maybe I'll take this post down if it's too inside baseball for you folks.

Oh,now it makes sense to me.

So if there's no NFL in 2011,I'm gonna be stuck watching really tall guys dunking a basketball and try to be brain washed into believing that it's not as easy as it looks.Thanks a lot.

No, don't take it down. It was very good but maybe a little too much for some.

Carlito- You have to have a brain to get a headache.

Dear (Insert Salguero's boss' name here),

Armando is sincerely underpaid. For proof please see his above column.

Armando - You're the @#$%'in best.

So if it is called "Final League Year" that would mean this is the final year of the CBA?

I'm just asking.

How does that affect the Fish? For example, lets use Fasano. He becomes a restricted free agent. If I read that right, which may not be the case, he is making around 500k, does that mean he just gets that 30% increase, if that is the case, the Fish would be dumb to let him go.

"The number of free agents that they may sign; the limit is determined by the number of their own free agents signing with other clubs. They cannot sign any UFAs unless one of theirs is signed by another team."


So this means that the JETS can't sign any free agents unless one of their FAs is signed by another team! Jets screwed themselves!!

What would have to happen for there to be NO foozball in 2011. Too scary to think about but still....

Very nice article and very informative!! The most interesting thing I read was The Final Eight Plan...very interesting and that screws the Jets (to a certain degree)!!

Very informative but my head is spinning a little. What do NFL experts expect to happen with an uncapped year in 2010? Purge of all overpaid players? Will the teams try to low ball guys based on their restricted rights?

So, hypothetically a team with a few bad contracts could cut the players this off-season without any cap hits correct? Think we'll see a lot of that?

I think underperformed players could be cut if they do not agree to different contracts. Look on the bright side for Raider fans, they can drop Russel like a bad habit and stop paying that fool. Ryan Leaf in the making and Russel will be broke within 5 years...he is that dumb!!

The league should allow a team to cut one guy without affecting the cap (assuming there is one). That way you can weed out one mistake per year.

Wanna headache? Try sifting through 343 pages of the (old) contract.

Taking everything in consideration, it's not good for the teams or the fans. The whole thing is, the owners want to bring the cost down and the union wants to keep up the status quo.

Who's right? Probably in the middle like most things. On one side, the #1 pic money is so ridiculous, only desperate and/or foolish teams want to pay the $. Smart teams just don't want to pay that kind of money for an unproven player. The other side's job is to get the most money and/or benefits for the players.

The end result is UFAs will be almost nonexistent in 2010 and 2011 will be a lockout year. Something that the owners are prepared and some say want.


Not a CBA question - but given that we just hired Nolan from Denver and Parcells (and I am sure Ireland and maybe Sparano) and Marshall are at the Shrine game together as you mentioned - what do you think it will take to get him out of Denver and do you think it will happen or are we dreaming again?

Jon , correct.

What was the purpose for the "final league year" to be structured so much differently than the other years of the CBA? Was it to be a deterant so that the sides would reach a new agreement prior to us getting here or something else?

Chris , it will require AT LEAST a 1st round pick . That pick his 12 which is to much . And yes you're dreaming.

See you Gibril Wilson! (and probably Akin Ayodele and Joey Porter too)

So Ted Ginn Jr. and a bag of footballs wouldn't do it for Brandon Marshall?

UM.... Armando did squat except cut/paste. This memo went out to all teams.


I forgive you misguided soul.

Peace be with you.

If you are not familiar with the current CBA rules, some of the noted amendments make little sense or seem incomplete as they are not clearly defined but instead explained as an adjustment to the original rule.

Since I am not well versed on all originals, some of it went over my head..

But this is awesome as a reference point for future discussions.

damn, my wife keeps doing something that logs me out of typepad.

Chris - SCREW Marshall, we don't want him. Yes his talent may be there "when HE" wants to play. There is no team in Marshall and that smells trouble!! STAY AWAY!!

LipsinToronto - You should make that cost her (your wife) a BJ...


Joemama- I change my mind. US smells likes crackers of the people who like only white. Be careful you, because I know to find you and murder in cuntry of mine is very good. My cuntry destroy yours if not for wepons that shoot better. My people much more toughing and kill you easy because USA has week the people and country of a joke.

I doubt that Warden Goodell & co would screw up a money-maker like the NFL. If they do, then they should be stoned on national tv. By stoned I mean rocks thrown at them in public for you potheads. Speaking of stoned, it's almost 4:20, gotta go...

Fake Carlito smells like soup and mothball from hismomma basement

Um, Tom Olivadotti, I clearly wrote in the post that "THE NFL SENT OUT THE FOLLOWING QUICK TUTORIAL ..."

I don't remember saying I spent the last four days putting this together.


Guys we are screwed, I just saw that Mel Kiper's mock draft has the Dolphins taking Rolando McClain with the 12th pick... now it will never happen... DAMN!

lol Indiana - seems fair to me

Dudes are always trying to catch Armando - but he is a pro - he always cites his sources when not original material..

Why not discuss the content of his blog instead of chittering like an old hag at a hen party.

Um, Tom Olivadotti, I clearly wrote in the post that "THE NFL SENT OUT THE FOLLOWING QUICK TUTORIAL ..."

I don't remember saying I spent the last four days putting this together.


Posted by: Armando Salguero | January 20, 2010 at 04:19 PM

Good one Armando...Some people just don't get it!

Chris, the purpose of having no cap, thus no ceiling or floor on spending, was so that it would sound so onerous to both sides as to compel them to get a deal done so both could continue to make $$$$.

But the sides didn't have the forsight to understand that owners had more pressing issues than that in that they don't believe continuing to pay 59 percent of their revenue to the players is sustainable, regardless of the cap.

And so while the whole cap-no cap issue is important, it pales when discussion staying in business and having that business remain profitable.

Chris, I don't see Brandon Marshall coming to the Dolphins. Why?

Bad attitude guy at times ... Parcells doesn't like diva WRs ... Price will be much higher for him than other options ... Ego will dictate the Dolphins will believe they can find a better option elsewhere.

Now, if you ask me about Boldin, that's a different story. His price will be lower as the Cards know the end is coming with him and will want to get something for him. They also want to transition to Early Doucet, who seems ready to play now.

Finally, I know the Dolphins respect Boldin. They don't view him as a diva.

The owners are obvioulsy making money.. in fact, I thought I read that the average NFL team makes $100MM a year in profit.

If they scaled back on salary, are they proposing to use those funds to invest in the team (ie pay for some of their own stadium upgrades, etc.) or are they just wanting their own bigger piece of the pie?

It needs to stay the way it is now. Don't fix what is not broken and I don't feel anything is broken. Yes they are overpaid, but aren't all ethletes. The only thing I could see doing different is having a limit put on certain draft picks. Each round having a lower and higher limit.

Why do the top picks have to make more than the top picks the year before? That is why we took Jake Long, because a QB at #1 would of been A LOT more money than paying an left tackle who is and will be our cornerstone for YEARS to come. Long was able to protect Henne in college and now he is doing the same in the pro's!

Why does Jacksonvile pick before us the they finished 8-8... And denvers pick from the bears is also behind the jags and they where also 7-9 like us...

Indiana, you are totally correct to believe there will be small flood of players who are underperforming their contracts on the market.

These players, in the past, would have a roster spot guaranteed just because it would cost too much against the cap to cut them.

But with no cap, there is no cost to get rid of bad contracts ...

So some teams will use the opportunity to clear the books of the bad deals.

It's an opportunity to pick up some players with pretty big names. But buyer beware.

Nice last post about Marshall Armando, but here is something you could ask. With our new DC coming from Denver he would know first hand whether the receiver has issues or if it was the "new" head coach in Denver. I still feel it was the receiver (Marshall being a crybaby and we don't want that), but his actions could of been because the coach was an arrogant punk.

Nolan should know more first hand, so maybe you should ask him. Are you allowed to do that since both our teams are done for the year? He may know what it would take to get him (more or less)... Go get the information Armando...that is your challenge!!


Have the Dolphins had any kind of preliminary talks with Ronnie Brown and his agent, in the unlikely event thy a CBA is somehow reached. While I think Miami would most likely want to resign him, I have heard or read nothing saying they had talked to him. I would like to think that is becAuse the team doesn't believe he will be a restricted free agent, due to no CBA. Please answer the question Mando, I think of there were a CBA already in place, what we planned to do with Ronnie would have been the biggest story for usbin the offseason.

Flipper, with 2010 being the final league year, that means 2009 was the last year with a cap ... until a new CBA is negotiated.

Jax finished 7-9

And I meant they don't believe he will be unrestricted,sorry.

RunRickyRun, if there is no "foozball" in 2011, you'd have to play air hockey.

If we get Boldin it would be like the Catalina F'in Wine Mixer. POW!

BlazzinAce - Jacksonville finished 7-9 and so did the Bears.

In return, 3 teams tied, the first tie breaker is strength of schedule. We had the better stregnth of schedule so we finish higher than them 2 teams in the standings, so therefore they draft ahead of us.


Hey Dolfans, I just read an interesting report with a rumor involving Mike Nolan. The report stated that Coach McDaniel hinted to Nolan that Denver would be blitzing less next season giving Nolan more motivation to leave. If this is true then our defense will be blitzing much more (finally!!). All we need now is an offensive coordinator who isn't afraid to spread the field or score points...

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