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|Vinny Cerrato (right) says teams have to stay flexible during this shortened free-agency period.|
"I'm the GM, so I'm working on unrestricted free agents at midnight (when free agency begins), along with my owner and my head coach. The undrafted rookies, I'm giving that to whoever my assistant contract [salary cap] guy is -- all teams have a couple. He goes with a couple coaches and probably my college scouting director and scouts. They're working on the undrafted, because those guys aren't going to hurt you. The unrestricted free agents that teams are talking to are going to make you or break you. But you're doing both at the same time."Cerrato's GM rule No. 2: Take advantage of 72-hour window
"I think this -- teams are already talking to agents. So, for teams and the guys that you want to re-sign, agents should have a feel for who else is interested. What's going to happen is, during that three-day window, the agent is going to know what the market is for that player. So he will let the team know if the player wants to sign early, here is what the market is. Then, it's going to be up to the team whether they want to pay that market value or if they don't believe that's the market. Some teams may say, 'No, let's see what the market is and then we will sign him.' Or some teams who really want the guy back will pay that."Cerrato's GM rule No. 3: Trust in your research
"It's the same situation you have with all your players and the homework that you've done on a guy. You're not going to want those kind of players who aren't going to work and don't love football. You don't want to pay that guy a lot of money. You gotta know the guy, because you've had plenty of time to investigate. So you're going to have a feel for what they're going to come in like. But the thing about it is you don't even know how your team is coming in. So the coaches have to gauge everybody when they get there and see where they're at. Otherwise, everyone is going to have [muscle] pulls. But you still have to go by the free agent's talent and abilities and what you see on film."Cerrato's GM rule No. 4: Mandatory spending changes landscape
"What's going to happen is you're going to have some teams come out of left field. For example, Tampa Bay can come in and blow teams away with whoever -- [and sign Ravens guard] Marshal Yanda if they wanted to. So you have to have a Plan A, a Plan B and a Plan C, because you don't know. In prior years, at midnight there were probably eight to 10 teams that were legitimately going after free agents, and everyone else was just waiting. Now you're going to have a lot more teams working and with a ton of money to spend."Cerrato's GM rule No. 5: Coach-GM balance will be critical
"A coach's mind frame previously has been, 'OK, let's evaluate and as we get closer we can pick out teams.' Now, I don't think they're as much into evaluating and developing. I think their mind frame is: 'We gotta prepare to play a game.' So that hurts all these rookies. What happens when a coach comes in and tells you ‘We want to cut the fourth-, fifth- and sixth-round picks, because they can't help us right now’? How are teams going to balance looking at the big picture or looking at how do we win today? That's going to be of interest."