The good news is that we are likely closing in on the end of the dreaded labor lockout of 2011. The bad news is players many people though were 'tendered' for their team next year aren't.
As reported earlier today by ESPN's Adam Schefter, under the as-yet-unconfirmed draft CBA that the owners and players are finalizing, the minimum number of years for unrestricted free agency will move back to four years. This means that any player who, prior to the lockout, was scheduled to be a FA in 2011 will indeed become one. All these one-year tenders teams were signing key players to prior to the lockout?
Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk tweeted me this earlier today:
Every player with: (1) an expired contract; and (2) 4 or more years of service will be a UFA, subject to franchise tag.
Now, this is absolutely HUGE news because this means players who would not normally hit the unrestricted free agent market are indeed going to do so. To put it in general terms, I'll quote CBS' Mike Freeman:
NFL free agency will be utter chaos. It'll be like releasing a Kardashian in an NBA locker room.
Pretty much, yeah.
This news affects the Colts because, prior to the lockout, they attempted to tender five key veterans who were scheduled for unrestricted free agency.
Indy signed Joseph Addai to a first round tender, Clint Session to a second rounder, and signed Daniel Muir, Melvin Bullitt, and Eric Foster to tenders of unknown level. If the Schefter report is true, and all signs point to it being authentic, Addai, Session, Bullitt, Muir, and Foster are all unrestricted free agents when the lockout ends.
Anyone could sign them when the lockout ends, and the Colts would not be able to claim any compensation.
Additional free agents for Indy include Charlie Johnson, Adam Vinatieri, and Antonio Johnson. The Colts have expressed strong interest in re-signing Vinatieri and C.J. Other free agents include Mike Hart, Tyjuan Hagler, and Dominic Rhodes.
Now, just like the Colts, other teams who likely wanted to retain free agents using tenders aren't able to do so. This means players like Quintin Mikell, Courtney Roby, Santana Moss, Mike Sims-Walker, Jared Gaither, Brandon Mebane, and Barrett Ruud will also become unrestricted. This means they can sign with any team.
I'll re-write that so you can better understand what I'm trying to say: This means they can sign with the Colts.
Get ready for a roller-coaster ride once free agency begins.