Last year’s free-agency period was knocked off course and totally derailed with 130-plus days of litigation, negotiation and appeals. Some normalcy returned just in time for training camp and then a very short free-agency period took place. It was crazy times. This offseason is back to regular business as the NFL clubs remember and Tuesday started what is known as controlled chaos.
I sat at Rams Park from 8 am until 10:40 pm in front of my computer watching my TweetDeck (tweeter) account scroll faster than a slot machine at a location casino, and never slowed down. This went on for the first five hours of free agency and my cell phone was on fire from the incoming and outgoing calls from sources and agents.
All NFL front offices were on a ready-set-go mindset for a shotgun start at 4 pm Eastern time. League procedures have long been in place. For the clubs, they maintain Pro Boards (listing of players ranked by position) with countless scheduled meetings and calendars that include the Combine, free agency and the upcoming draft that personnel departments use to formulate a plan for building a championship foundation and developing building blocks for structured success in the near future.
Once the 2012 new league year began, the free-agent frenzy opened the floodgates to good football players receiving overpriced salaries, along with Peyton Manning’s NFL team version of musical chairs and who will be the last chair in the circle to receive his services, if he is indeed healthy. Meanwhile, the entire league is focusing and awaiting the fate of the New Orleans Saints organizational reprimand along with Gregg Williams’ possible year ban for his involvement in the bounty program.
All 32 teams have their office and cell phones on speed dial to the agent population for the next several days and are itching to sign players to contracts within the first several hours of free agency, book flights, organize and set up visits to their facilities, as well as plan tours of the city along with dinners with key players to enhance the “recruiting” experience, for those that will upgrade their teams immediately.
I was taught by Bill Polian, Mike McCormack and later in my NFL career by Bill Walsh that building a competitive team and roster is done through the yearly draft, and you only turned toward free agency to fill hot spots. It is always fun to analyze this important time period for all 32 teams, who got which player, how many teams overpaid and which teams were not involved in the wacky world of NFL free agency.