Mateo Vasquez ’21
It is, once again, that time of year during which the National Football League (NFL) undergoes the process of restructuring, free agents, and looking for draft picks. This year, more than ever before, we will see some unlikely negotiations and, without a doubt, a salary cap squeeze that is bound to present numerous issues within the league. For example, the salary cap is already presenting some issues for Steelers’ player Ben Roethlisberger, who had his salary cap drop from $40 million dollars to $25 million dollars, a rather severe decline in salary from years past. However, it is not unheard of for a quarterback to take a cut in his earnings in order to spread the wealth and opportunities amongst the team. However, for Roethlisberger, this cut is definitely more significant than in years past.
After a year of the pandemic, the players and the league alike are starting to feel the full economic effects, especially groups of rising stars that were expecting to receive higher salary caps than years prior. Many franchises are in similar situations to the Steelers and are being forced to make some rash decisions and sacrifices on the team that are rather unexpected, to say the least. Teams across the NFL only have a total of nine days left to get everything in order to achieve compliance and to decide which players they find it best to ultimately structure the team around in terms of their respective salaries. In preparation for all of these changes, there is a lot of talk moving forward about free agents.
Without a doubt, the 2020 season has seen that free agents have the ability to truly change the playing field. Daryl Williams of the Bills, or even Nelson Agholor of the Raiders, have each had a huge impact on the field in what they are able to accomplish as players. With the next big wave of free agents entering the market on Mar. 15, there is a lot of anticipation as to what impact they could have during the upcoming 2021 season. In more recent years, free agents have truly transformed the field and allowed for teams to become more versatile in their play styles and overall ability to move the ball down the field. The Jaguars in particular are expecting to keep a lower salary cap so that they are able to secure some solid free agent picks, which can help restructure the team moving forward. The Jaguars are also in a great position for the draft, in that they are expected to welcome Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawerance.
The free agent game and the NFL draft are expected to demonstrate a very high level of talent this year, and with multiple teams going through an intense restructuring process, there is a lot of room open for draft picks and agents. Some teams that are expected to be a main point of conversation surrounding the draft are the Jaguars, Eagles, and Chiefs, as they are expected to make some big improvements in the coming weeks. With all of the excitement building up into an unusual 2021 season, it will be interesting to see how these improvements will have an impact on the league and on the NFL generally in the coming year.