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NFL Free Agency '10: Sign-and-Trades Are Possible

Study this passage from a Seattle Times story on WR Brandon Marshall, who visited the team today:

As for whether Marshall will be staying in Seattle, expect this to be the first step in a what could be a longer process... Do not expect the sides to negotiate or sign an offer sheet because that would offer no room for negotiation in the compensation the Broncos would receive.  (emphasis mine)

Now, look at this passage from the Baltimore Sun on the Ravens need to recoup draft picks:

The lower-than-expected tenders to three restricted free agents (Clayton, offensive tackle Jared Gaither and quarterback Troy Smith) seem like the Ravens are enticing teams to make them offers for these players.

Finally, a passage from the Miami Herald:

Another restricted free agent safety is Indy's Antoine Bethea. The guy was a Pro Bowl player, if you recall. The draft pick compensation on him is substantial -- a first round pick. But one would supposed the team could always work a trade with the Colts rather than give up the first-round selection. (Maybe a second-rounder?)

Three beat writers making the same general claim, which appear to confirm a point I raised yesterday.  The tenders placed on players are not absolute unless the player signs an offer sheet which is not matched.  The tenders appear to represent starting points in negotiations.  Lots of people have wondered why the Seahawks would entertain signing Brandon Marshall to an offer sheet, when doing so would mean forfeiting the 6th overall pick in the draft.  The linked passage suggests why -- Seattle has no intention of surrendering that pick for Marshall.

The Seahawks may have to give up their early 2nd rounder or the Broncos may insist on the second 1st-round pick the Seahawks possess -- it was originally Denver's pick and they may enjoy getting it back.  If a deal comes off the compensation for Marshall will be negotiated.  One can assume that Seattle would then get permission to negotiate a long-term deal with Marshall,   He would then sign that contract with the Broncos, and he and that contract would then be dealt to the Seahawks for the agreed upon pick(s). 

This scenario is likely to be played out more and more once the big name free agents settle, and many of them have already found new addresses, or re-signed with the old teams.

When you read the stories on Gerald Sensabaugh and wonder if a team would give up a 2nd for him, temper your expectations.  Plenty of teams may want him -- if the Cowboys are willing to deal him for a lower price. 

The same is likely true for every young tendered RFA who looks to have a future.  The biggest question will be what the "real" compensation should be?

The NFL has taken a major step towards NBA-dom.  If this produces more trades, the uncapped system could produce even more fan interest.