Rules could help keep players in AFC West

March, 14, 2011
3/14/11
2:00
PM ET
This NFL lockout could have a silver lining for some teams when it comes to free agency.

The Washington Post is reporting that if the court system rules that the NFL must end its lockout, free-agency rules will likely revert back to the 2010 system in which there was not a salary cap.

It would mean there would be restricted free agency for four- and five-year players. That very likely wouldn’t be the case had there been a deal, or if there is a new CBA, agreed upon before free agency starts. There usually isn’t much movement in restricted free agency in which the player’s current team has matching rights and the player’s signing team must give up a draft pick or more.

While the lockout is a major mess, this development would give teams leeway with key free agents. That could be good news for the AFC West teams, particularly Oakland and San Diego.

In that instance, Oakland tight end Zach Miller and running back Michael Bush would be restricted free agents. In San Diego, safety Eric Weddle and receiver Malcom Floyd would be restricted free agents.

Kansas City cornerback Brandon Carr and Denver tackle Ryan Harris are also among the players who would be affected by this development.

Oakland cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, who’ll be the best player in free agency, would still be an unrestricted free agent. Actually, this development would likely help Asomugha’s value. The free-agent class would shrink considerably and teams looking to upgrade may put extra resources into a pursuit of Asomugha, knowing that there will be fewer avenues to improve.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN Oakland Raiders reporter

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