Expect Less Parity in the NFL This Season
By: Justin Onslow
July 31, 2010
D'Brickashaw Ferguson
The gloves are off. Perhaps it is the big-market bias on the part of national sports media, or the desire of many fans to watch superpower dynasties on the field of play, but the lack of outrage over the absence of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in the NFL is an outrage in and of itself. Next season, NFL fans will be watching teams assembled under the pretense that during the 2010-11 season, no salary cap will exist in the league. For some reason, very few people see a problem with that.

The New York Jets completed what most consider to be one of the biggest offseasons in league history this year. Jets General Manager Mike Tannenbaum managed to sign veteran superstar LaDainian Tomlinson in free agency to bolster an already impressive backfield. If that weren't enough, he also acquired cornerback Antonio Cromartie from the San Diego Chargers and wide receiver Santonio Holmes from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Those moves were fantastic for the organization, and under normal circumstances, none would be controversial. However, the Jets managed to sign left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson to a six year, $60 million contract extension, which included $34.8 million in guaranteed money. Oh, and they have yet to give shutdown cornerback Darrelle Revis the contract he is holding out for, which is expected to be one of the largest contracts given to any defensive back in the league. The Jets play in a huge market, and will undoubtedly be able to afford paying its star-studded roster more money than any other team in the league. In the past, all teams were required to operate under a salary cap to ensure a certain level of parity within the league. Not this year.

Because the NFL Owners Committee and Players Union could not come to terms on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the result is a season of uncapped salaries and a major shift in the balance of power in the league. Although the lack of a new CBA could result in a lockout in 2011 (during which no games would be played without a new agreement), teams are currently concerned about what the standoff means this season. For NFL players, the standoff means larger contracts due to the absence of a team salary cap. For the fans, it means a season of haves and have-nots.

Last season, it seemed the disparity between good teams and bad teams was greater than ever before. Eight teams won five regular season games or fewer, while ten teams won ten or more. The St. Louis Rams, Detroit Lions and Kansas City Chiefs won a combined seven games and continued their recent history of futility in the league. Odds are that won't change in 2010.

That the Owners Committee and Players Union cannot come to terms on an agreement is a moot point right now. If it hasn't happened yet, it will not happen before the start of the season. This season will be an uncapped one, and it will prove to be a veritable Pandora's Box of issues. Future player salaries are sure to increase and parity will decrease.

Who are the losers in this situation? The fans. The national sports media has glorified New York Jets management for its clever maneuvering in the pursuit of high-paid talent, but while the Jets and a handful of other teams are benefiting from the lack of salary cap, several other teams are at a severe disadvantage. It is time that fans realize the greed of NFL owners and players is a great disservice to most NFL fans. Teams are attempting to buy a championship this season, and while the New York Jets are well on their way, the majority of teams in the league are at a disadvantage, and so are the fans of teams without the means to overspend for talent.

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