Free Agency Period in the NFL Brings All Kinds of Ups and Downs

Red Bryant takes his enormous talent to Jacksonville as a free agent in 2014.

Later today, the National Football League will formally enter its’ free agency period. At 4pm Eastern time today, players who are not under contract with teams may pursue contracts with any team of their liking.

Mutual interest is always a good idea as is having a team that appears to be in the upper echelon of the league. As much as players want to be paid in this generation, they also do want to win championships too.

It’s not about the ring or being able to say “we are the champions” it’s about attention and opportunity (see Richard Sherman). Free agency isn’t just for those from losing teams though because past Super Bowl Champions have used that to make big bucks through free agent deals.

Want proof? Think Larry Brown. No, not the basketball coach who has coached nearly every team in America, but Larry Brown the defensive back.

Larry Brown was a classic example of one game earning an average player a huge free agent contract.

Brown was a good cornerback who played opposite a much better cornerback in Dallas named Deion Sanders. In Super Bowl XXX, Brown was the beneficiary of two passes from Pittsburgh’s Neil O’Donnell. Brown intercepted both and those two turnovers turned out to be the difference in the game.

Fast-forward to the free agency period of that following year and boom! Brown gets a monster deal from the Oakland Raiders. He would go on to do very little for Oakland starting just one game and playing in just 12 total over two years there.

He finished his career in Dallas by playing in just four games.

During this current free agency period, new Super Bowl Champion and former Seattle Seahawk Red Bryant is now a Jacksonville Jaguar. Bryant will sign a four-year $18 million deal tomorrow when the free agency period formally begins.

Bryant has actually seen his playing time decrease in recent years as he saw just 561 snaps last year. In the two previous years in Seattle he saw over 700 plays per year. Does this suggest that Bryant could be another ‘Larry Brown-type signing?’

Not necessarily but if we’ve learned anything in free agency over the past couple of decades it’s that more often than not, big name free agents who sign for huge amounts of money don’t always work out as we thought they would. This would be a good time to research Daniel Snyder’s free agent signings in Washington by the way.

One thing that has changed about this period is the new ‘legal tampering’ that is allowed three days prior to the actual free agency period beginning. The NFL knew that agents and team officials were talking in secret anyways prior to this rule so why not implement something that allows it? With money always goal number one, the NFL also recognized that the three-day period would create more interest by fans.

They’d be able to follow Twitter and see just what players their particular team was interested in. Therefore, another win-win for the NFL. What fans need to be cautious of in free agency though is being able to separate contact with a player and actual interest in a player. Just because Detroit for example is interested in Emmanuel Sanders because of a report from an NFL Network guy, that doesn’t mean it’s a foregone conclusion that Sanders is the Lions’ ‘must-have’ player.

Every team is interested in kicking the tires on available players but fans have to keep in mind that salary cap implications may limit the chances of those players even being considered. In other words NFL fans, don’t jump the gun on every rumor you hear because more often than not they won’t be true.

Enjoy free agency!