According to the framework of the proposed Collective Bargaining Agreement from Chris Mortenson of ESPN, free agency would return to his pre-2010 rules with four years needed to reach unrestricted free agency.
Most of the Green Bay Packers would fall into this category. For sake of reference, here is a list of players and their years of experience who would be eligible for unrestricted free agency under such a framework…
- Linebacker Matt Wilhelm, 8 years
- Defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins, 7 years
- Safety Atari Bigby, 5 years
- Guard Daryn Colledge, 5 years
- Running back John Kuhn, 5 years
- Safety Anthony Smith, 5 years
- Offensive lineman Jason Spitz, 5 years
- Kicker Mason Crosby, 4 years
- Fullback Korey Hall, 4 years
- Running back Brandon Jackson, 4 years
- Wide receiver James Jones, 4 years
The only players who don’t meet this threshold are cornerback Josh Bell, who has three years of experience and would be a restricted free agent, and wide receiver Brett Swain and tight end Spencer Havner, both of whom have two years of experience and would be exclusive rights free agents.
The restricted free agent tenders players like Crosby, Colledge, Jones, Kuhn and Jackson were reported to have received would be void under the new CBA.
Even though the Packers aren’t known to be active participants in free agency under Ted Thompson, you can see from the lengthy list that they’ll at least be busy resigning some of their own players.
The return of a salary cap will make it difficult if not impossible for the Packers to sign those players who are likely to sign lucrative contracts on the open market, namely Jenkins and Jones. Could they sign these players? Yes, but they’d probably have to clear money elsewhere to do so.
While perhaps not in the same category as Jenkins and Jones, a group including Crosby, Jackson and Colledge might also generate some interest in the open market.
As for the rest of the unrestricted free agents, the Packers could probably have them back at a reasonable price, but they have to decide whether they want them back. In the case of Kuhn, the Packers will probably re-sign him. As for guys like Spitz, Smith and Hall, their futures with the Packers are a little more up in the air.
A new CBA is not guaranteed, though it’s looking more and more likely all the time. Based upon the recent progress made, it’s not out of the question that free agency could begin in mid-July before training camps begin.