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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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Bootang: The Dolphins talked to Ronnie's agent last offseason and just before training camp began. And then the talks went silent.

Haven't heard anything since. Also haven't really been asking lately because no one really thinks a new CBA will be reached.

And if that's the case, Ronnie is under contract at $5 million.

Major challenge, Indy. Nolan has not been returning calls. His wife is answering his cell phone.

The Dolphins don't want him to talk. Someone said the first time he'll talk is training camp -- which is in July!

That, I guess, is the small price you pay for having an organization that is, shall we say, not media friendly.

Rodge, the reason Nolan left Denver is because both HE and McDaniels saw opportunities elsewhere. And both agreed to move on after the season made it clear to both they weren't completely suited for one another. I have that from a very reliable source.

Look on the bright-side, if there's a lockout in 2011 the Dolphins won't have another losing season.

I hear you Armando. But couldn't the one of the reasons they weren't suited for each other have to do with defensive philosophies like um, aggressiveness (blitzing)?

Look on the bright-side, if there's a lockout in 2011 the Jest won't have to worry about getting swept by the Dolphins again.

Thx for the info Indiana and Cav. Anybody else get their sports illustrated in the mail today..? -.-'

Mando, why all the secrecy? Where's the beneft of all the closed practices, gagged assistants and top secret BS. It doesn't exactly endear the fans to the powers that be. It's not the Manhattan Project, it's just football.

Weston Jets Fan, why are you writing comments on a Dolphins post? Are the Jets' blogs that bad that you find a little more intelligence here or are you confused geographically?

did you get your locker room ready for sanchez ?

The rookies make way to much money.They should have put a cap on how much money a rookie gets paid a long time ago.

Sanchez and his family will be cleaning the locker rooms on Monday.

I find it amusing to read about the unrealistic hopes of rebuilding teams. If you don't like Jets fans on this blog, maybe the author should refrain from smacktalking their team every chance he gets.


Cocoajoe, every team closes practices and hides injuries and tries to keep things in-house.

But most teams also introduce their new coaches to the media (and thus fans) and introduce new free agents and let the GM talk. Those things don't affect competitive advantage, but it's simply not the way the Dolphins operate under Bill Parcells.

It is what it is.

Given rmthe ability to cut players with little repercussion, I have a feeling there are probably going to be 5 or 6 huge names that may get the ax. Think about it, let's even say on our team, a guy like Crowder, or Carey, maybe the FO looks at there contracts, and decides maybe it would be wise for the future to cut losses now. That being said, I like both players a lot, in fact I think Crowder would highly benefit from a guy like McClain taking spotlight off him. But these are examples of where a team may try and look to the future by making a decision now. Is this something that you see as a possibility, Armando, guys getting cut who would NEVER even be considered cutting, with the ability to move Ina different direction?

Weston Jets Fan, if you think I smack talk the Jets now, wait until they LOSE on Sunday. You'll love what I write about them then as they head home tail tucked between legs.

By the way, I got a ton of angry emails from Jets fans yesterday after I wrote that copying the Jets' formula is a bad idea. All of the emails were offensive. All called me every name in the book.

It was GREAT!

armando. you are the best in my book .

LMFAO @ mando. good for you !!

Mando, you remind me of an angry, snarling pitbull that hasn't been fed in a while. We point you at the Jets and you happily take a giant bite out of their butts.

You rock, my brother!

LMAO @ Mando
Talking some smack to the Jest fans who have to borrow a Dolphins blog just like they borrow the Giants stadium. Nice!!

Maybe one day the league will let the Jest sit at the adult table and they will have a stadium of their very own. When that happens the Jest might actually have their own blogs to go to instead of obsessing over ours.


Go Mando, Luv it!

I will be covering the Jets-Colts game on Sunday. I'll witness the spanking in person and give you Jets fans a first-hand account.

Thanks for reading.

Mando, You are the man sir! That is why this is the best Dolphins blog out there, keep fighting the good fight my friend.

LMAO!! Beautiful Armando...u ARE a real Dolphin fan!!!!

We are grateful for ya Mando, You are always appreciated.

mel kiper has mcclain landing in our lap!!!!(i wish this happens)

With 2 tagged players possible, it's 100% certain that Wilfork is getting tagged.

Damn PTI just said it's been 25 years since we lost to the 49ers in the Super Bowl. 25 years, wow.

With the change at defensive coordinator in Denver, maybe they won’t draft him; most mocks have Mcclain going to the Broncos.

Read Cote? We'd rather pull out our finger nails with pliers.


About Wilfork, I think there is no way they let him go. BUT, they did draft Ron Brace last year, and teres a decent amount of DT in the draft. So I could see them maybe moving on without him. They have many needs, maybe they decide instead of only signing him, they could sign 3 players to fill out there defense.

Weston Jets Fan, this might be a couple minutes old but, you dont have the right to insult Mando's blog with your jet spirit.. Maybe if you BEAT us next year you might have a reason to come on our blog.

AWESOME JOB Mando! I love your insider information. Keep up the good work!

did you guys getting the locker room room set to go ? sanchez loves to have ice tea before the game .

jet, Son, the act is stale. Please get a new line dude…

One that shows a little Creativity......


jets rock, fins suck .

BTW, I Thought Sancheeze was all about putting wieners in his mouth on the sideline during a game?

ice tea & Wieners........

I bet he could stuff 3 or 4 Wieners in his mouth at a time....

Might need some Tea after he is done though..

Ya know, ta wash down the leavings....

sanchez is a good guy ,he loves tacos w/hot dogs .

Tacos, don't think so....

I think he is a Wiener eater...

He doesnt eat tacos.. He just makes them with his family

Why don't the republicans just call Obama A nigga and shut up already about someone callin him a negro.
They do it behind his back anyway.

sanchez is the man .

Wrong blog Billy you want the liberal douche blog!

Billy boy , go get the locker room my boy .

Billy try the, Im a Racist Democrat or Losing the Majority in 2010 blogs...more ur style :)

"He's a like skinned black man without a Negro dialect" that quote courtesy of TADA Democratic Senate Majority Leader HARRY REID... Thank u, thank u

bobbyd12 aka nj phin is pathatic person .

LMAO!!! I guess the letter D stands for what, DI"K or DOU"HE??? Truth hurts huh D??

you started drinking early nj .

By the way D, I live in Florida and work in Miami, NJ lives in uhhh New Jersey... If u been on this blog for any amount of time you would not be a complete AS"

Ohh, I quote a Democratic leader who said what he said and You are upset. Hahahhahahaha

D, here's ur "Martha Coakley" jersey, where it with pride and come back soon!!! :) bye bye

Carlito...Saw that Kiper Mock also... yes history say's he has wrenched the works... sucks but true. I do hope Miami uses some of the room given clubs hear to get some dead weight contacts off the books (Gibril Wilson and his exorbitant contract come to mind as does a poor performing linebacker with the initials A.A.... I still can't pronounce his name correctly so initials will have to suffice. He does great work in Miami as a community guy... but I would much rather have another SB win then for any Kids in the Hospital to be happy or homeless to get homes or whatever... send them flowers if we win the SB or something nice like that? (Stop writing... I'm just kidding) any who... thanks Armando... nice info.





I would ask you guys what its like being in a AFC Championship game, but 1993 was a long time ago. I still don't forget the a** whooping the Bills laid on you losers in your own park.

If players and there dead weight contracts are released, expecting no cap problems and they subsequently arrive at a new CBA. Would they retroactively penalize the team (causing a major cap hit)?

Armando, if there is no cap next year do you think that will be it for some time??? I've read some owners believe the cap won't come back, which of course would mean the deep pocketed owners would have a HUGE advantage for the best players...the end of parity for sure

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