NFL free agency 2013: Where talented players are unemployed

Scott Cunningham

You could have a virtual Pro Bowl roster of available free agents that still haven't been signed by teams. All due to the flat salary cap and previously unscrupulous spending by teams.

As of Friday, you had Kevin Kolb in the backfield with Ahmad Bradshaw and Darius Heyward-Bey and Brandon Lloyd lined up outside and Dallas Clark in the slot. Protecting him, Andre Smith, Bryant McKinnie, Eric Winston and Brandon Moore. Across the line of scrimmage waiting to scream "Boo!" at Kolb is Dwight Freeney, Tommy Kelly (they do have a history), John Abraham, Karlos Dansby - with Charles Woodson and Nnamdi Asomugha covering.

All currently are unemployed (well, Kolb found himself a home in Buffalo) and all currently are unemployed partially because of their previous contracts that they, their agents and/or the team negotiated and by a stalemate of the NFL's salary cap that has stayed, for the most part, stagnant with no foreseeable rise in future seasons.

From 1994 to 2009, before the labor strike and the new collective bargaining agreement, the yearly wage capacity went from around 35 million to 120 million. Free agents and teams thought Christmas was in March every year and spent upwards of 100 million on one player (Washington Redskins to Albert Haynesworth), to teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys robbing Peter to pay Paul with restructuring contracts that would come to rue.

With the cap only rising incrementally since the CBA and TV contracts (if at all) not aiding until the 2015 season, teams are being forced to be fiscally responsible. A lot of tenured veterans such as the ones mentioned above as well as Brian Urlacher, and James Harrison are placing Help Wanted ads, while Anquan Boldin and Adrian Wilson were traded/cut because of their contracts. Clubs are doing more like the Cards this off season with short term deals in hopes of freeing money for the following year. They are making sure they're keeping their superstars and cheaper talent while discarding serviceable players that can be had for lesser contracts. And the NFL middle class is suffering.

Welcome to the new NFL free agency period, where the rich get richer and the undrafted rookies still make more money than I.

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