In the National Football League the most important thing is not the season, the Draft, or even the Super Bowl. The single most important thing in the NFL is the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The CBA is the deal between league owners and the players. The CBA includes the terms for free agency and the all-important salary cap. Because the owners have chosen to opt out of the current agreement, the 2010 season is set to be a cap-free season. There are many things that will occur when the 2010 season goes uncapped in March.
First, the years of experience required to be an unrestricted-free-agent will go from 4 to 6. This will dry up the free agent market of many players, who use their forth or fifth season as a chance to get the large contract of their career, will not be available. Furthering the now shallow pool, each team will be eligible to use an extra franchise or transition tag. Under the current CBA, teams can use one franchise tag or one transition tag. Without a cap, each team can use a franchise tag or a transition tag. (A franchise tag is a one-year contract worth the average of the 5 highest paid players at the same position as the player being tagged. The transition tag is the average of the top 10.) With the extra team tags, the shallow pool will become nothing more than a puddle. There will also be restrictions on signing for teams who made the play-offs.
In the long term, many league officials have said that once the league goes uncapped it will be impossible to become recapped. If that were not bad enough, if a new deal is not struck by March, 2011 the league will be locked out. But with all this doom and gloom, it is important to remember that there is still time to make an agreement. So, do not throw away your jerseys or cancel your PSL's. Just understand the possibilities, hope for the best, and prepare for the worst.