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National Football League
Draft King Analysis

February 4, 2008
Lou Pickney,

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The Giants win over New England in Super Bowl XLII will go down as one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history. While the result of the Super Bowl typically has a minimal amount of impact on the draft, it is certainly the biggest day of the year for the NFL -- and for many football fans.

Now, with the season finished, there are some very interesting free agent issues that will have a major impact on the draft. Randy Moss is an impending unrestricted free agent. People have mocked the Raiders for trading him for just a fourth round pick, but it must be remembered that Moss only had one year left on his deal. It's similar to what Jets LB Jonathan Vilma and Lions WR Roy Williams face, where they have one year left on their contract.

Such a trade can work in baseball, such as the Johan Santana deal that sent the ace starting pitcher from Minnesota to the New York Mets. But without a salary cap, and with most baseball contracts being guaranteed, it's a very different situation than it is in football. With the salary cap, a signing bonus is accelerated to hit that year's cap, which makes a similar extension sign-and-trade in the NFL almost impossible.

As if the 2007 season wasn't good enough for him, Cleveland QB Derek Anderson has landed a Pro Bowl berth with Tom Brady bowing out of the game. Anderson is a restricted free agent, and I've written about him and his situation at length on here before, but there are already reported problems in the length of the contract that the Browns have offered him versus what he wants.

If he reaches the free agent level, a poison pill provision could force Cleveland to lose him... but the Browns would gain a first and third pick (presuming they give Anderson the highest tender for a restricted free agent), which might make it worth their while. If the Browns lose Anderson to a QB-hungry team, which would otherwise likely use a high round draft pick of a quarterback, that likely will knock down many of the QB prospects one peg. That means you, Joe Flacco!

The whole Chad Johnson drama in Cincinnati is likely the release of frustration as opposed to a plan for Johnson to actually hold out for the 2008 season. Contractually it would be very difficult for the Bengals to trade him, plus it would likely be difficult for Cincinnati to receive what it considers fair market value for CJ.

Asante Samuel is going to make a mega payday when he hits free agency. Patriots fans can only think "What if?" when they watch the replay of Samuel dropping a would-be interception on the final Giants game-winning drive. Barring something highly unexpected, Samuel will be playing elsewhere in 2008, likely for mega cash.

Along with players who have expiring contracts, there will be some veterans who face being cut. Usually they are players getting up there in age, or who have a huge base salary baked into the end of their contract. I'm talking about guys reaching the tail end of their deals. It's like what 49ers CB Nate Clements will eventually face; the odds of him actually being on the roster as a 35 year old in 2014 earning a $15.48 million base salary are slim.

Some agents have shown creativity by putting roster bonuses into contracts that are due in March, forcing the team in question to make a decision prior to the draft. With the draft taking place in late April, it gives players who would be in limbo the opportunity to hit the open market before the draft... and before teams have made major decisions for the following year.


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