Clarifying Roddy White's contract situation

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- One frequent question I get from a lot of Atlanta fans is, "When are the Falcons going to sign Roddy White to a long-term contract extension?''

It's a very legitimate question because White has blossomed into a big-time receiver and he's headed into the last year of his contract. There's no doubt the Falcons want to lock up White and they'll try to do it in the next few months, if they're not already working on it.

But there's one very important point with this situation that needs to be clarified. There might not be as much urgency to get a long-term deal as we all thought because the NFL is heading into a unique situation in 2010.

At least at the moment, the Collective Bargaining Agreement hasn't been renewed and 2010 will be an uncapped year. There's one other significant item that goes along with that situation.

As of now, White will not become an unrestricted free agent after this season. In the uncapped situation, White would become only a restricted free agent. That's one of the changes in the new setup. Players can't become unrestricted free agents until they have six vested years.

White already has four seasons and 2009 would be his fifth. If White becomes a restricted free agent, the Falcons almost certainly would place the highest tender on him, meaning another club would have to surrender a first-round pick to sign him away and the Falcons could match any offer White receives.

Like I said, there's still a good chance the Falcons try to sign White to an extension and make this a moot point. But the new rules give them another option.