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Friday, April 16, 2010
RFA ship never sailed*

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

The restricted free agent portion of the offseason ended Thursday evening with exactly one player -- in the entire NFL -- changing teams. New Orleans running back Mike Bell moved on to Philadelphia via a one-year contract.

To my knowledge, none of the NFC North's RFAs received serious interest from other teams.. Green Bay safety Nick Collins is the only one who parlayed his status into a long-term deal. That trend falls in line with the league-wide trend, and also means no Black and Blue team made a serious mistake in determining the appropriate tenders for its players.

In retrospect, a number of "new" RFAs -- those who would have been unrestricted free agents under the NFL's old offseason rules -- were absolutely victims of the uncapped year. Minnesota defensive end Ray Edwards, Green Bay safety Atari Bigby and perhaps Chicago defensive end Mark Anderson would have been in position to consider long-term offers from either their original team or elsewhere. Under the new rules, original teams had no incentive to offer long-term contracts. It's no surprise that none of that trio have signed their tenders yet.

Lists of un-signed RFAs are not yet public, but my records show at least nine NFC North players have yet to sign. That decision is mildly relevant at this point; they can't change teams and have until June 15 to sign or face a reduction in salary.

Unsigned RFAs can participate in voluntary offseason workouts if they sign an injury waiver. For that reason, unsigned RFAs really aren't newsworthy items unless they decide to skip the June 15 deadline and hold out from training camp. Stay tuned.

*Update: Cooterificus02 makes a solid point in the comment section: Several high-profile RFAs signed their tenders in order to be traded for alternate compensation. That list includes new Detroit guard Rob Sims. But obviously, those players didn't have the same role in determining their future team as a free agent would have.