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Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Putting 'final eight' rule in perspective

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Darren Urban's item on the "final eight" rules provides a good opening to discuss what an uncapped year means for the Cardinals.

Basically, the final eight teams alive in the playoffs, including Arizona, will have a harder time signing free agents from other teams if the NFL and its players fail to extend the collective bargaining agreement. I don't think this is a huge deal, though, because rules will also dramatically reduce the number of players available in free agency. And remember, there haven't been many good players hitting the market, anyway.

Without a new CBA, players must have six years in the league, not four, to become free agents. Teams will also be able to use one franchise tag and two transition tags to restrict veteran players.

Pat Kirwan of NFL.com has done a good job explaining some of the implications here and here.

Last offseason, Arizona lost (and in some cases did not want back) Terrelle Smith, Eric Green, J.J. Arrington, Antonio Smith and the since-re-signed Monty Beisel in unrestricted free agency. The Cardinals added Bryant McFadden and Jason Wright as unrestricted free agents. The team re-signed unrestricted free agents Brian St. Pierre, Ben Graham, Kurt Warner, Ralph Brown, Clark Haggans, Bertrand Berry and the since-released Elton Brown, with Karlos Dansby re-signing as a franchise player.