By Topher Guthrie
The NFL's new salary cap and the sudden rush to set rosters on the flizz-eye will add up to a roster bloodbath this week unlike anything seen before in pro sports. Seven teams are currently over the cap, led by the Dallas Cowboys at a whopping $18.9 million over - meaning Cowboys players should be sure to bring a change of clothes when they report to camp this week. It turns out Jerry Jones has more bills to pay than my bookie at tax time.
Worse yet, teams will be adding undrafted free agents and signing other
teams' unrestricted and cut players, meaning they must first drop below
the cap to do so. In other words, the solidarity players showed during
the 136-day lockout will be rewarded with many of them being shown the
door as soon as it opens.
The NFL continues to be the most awesome game on the field and the ugliest one off. NFL owners would rather you not pay attention to their closed-door bargaining and wait-till-the-eleventh-hour shenanigans. But they open up the clubhouse just in time for you to see four of the most popular Ravens get cut and a slew of others standing in line with their playbooks.
The start of training camps will see the carnage reach new heights. Welcome back fans, screw your favorite players.
If the end to the lockout taught us anything, it's that the owners own this game. The players fought valiantly for four months and stuck together through it all (except for you, Kenny Britt). But, owners will stop at nothing to make sure that fans root for the uniform and not the player.
If they seem intent on turning over player inventory like your local Home Depot, maybe we can blame Falcons owner Arthur Blank. If they roll out savings like a used car dealership, maybe we can thank Saints owner Tom Benson. If they mine new technology like an IT geek, maybe we can point the finger at Seahawks owner Paul Allen.
You see, staying relevant in business is about preparing for change. Unfortunately, most of us aren't football fans because we love business. Most of us would rather watch James Harrison drop back into coverage any day of the week, year or century. Instead, we'll be watching store owners clear the shelves for their latest price mark-up.
It's true; the NFL does care about the fan. Season ticket holders got apology emails. Returning war heroes will get honored at halftimes and games will be played with pink-ribboned balls making us aware of breast cancer. That doesn't change the fact that the Cowboys may cut Bradie James, whose mother tragically passed away from breast cancer earlier this year (the Cowboys drafted LB Bruce Carter in the second round, possibly to fill his shoes).
It just happens that the NFL is two-faced like Jewish Kwanzaa at my Aunt Mary Margaret's house (maybe that's three faces). For fans, that means hold on tight till the preseason begins. For players, that means lower your pad level or hang em up on the way out.
Oh, you remember it from high school, unless you were in the bottom 10 %, in which case you don't have the memory skills. The top 10 % makes 90% of the money. This is Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. These guys can rest easy. But the middle 80%, their families, and their fans must be on Cut Plan Alpha, with their agents on speed dial. Anything can change and it likely will in the weeks leading up to training camp.
So grab your popcorn and watch the bottom line scroll across the screen for your favorite player's name. The carnage is just beginning in the bloodbathiest sport in the world.
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