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Keep Your Own
May 4 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
Jennifer Lopez is starring in a new movie. I’ll be honest, I don’t know the name of it, and I probably wont see it, but in the previews, there’s a great line. Something along the lines of “A woman has the right to protect herself and her off-springs”. Pretty clever for Hollywood, I’ll give them that. Actually, it’s a great point when applied to football too. “NFL teams should have the right to protect themselves and their own players.” Seems to fit doesn’t?

Ever since free agency came to play in the NFL, teams have lost players to higher bidders. When the NFL implemented is salary cap, the problem was only made worse. Now teams not only lost players to free agency, but often have to cut players just to stay under the salary cap. It hardly seems fair.

Players get drafted to a team, get paid for one, two or sometimes even more years to sit on the bench, learn and develop at the pro level. Often by the time they are ready to take the field, they are with another team. It just doesn’t make sense. Should NFL teams have a right to keep players they invest so heavily in. Shouldn’t they be protected so this type of loss would not occur?

Then of course are the veteran players. Men like Jerry Rice, who if it were not for the salary cap, would likely never have hit the open market. Sure the NFL claims that it’s new veteran salary pool will make a difference, and it may in some minor way, but its really not enough.

The NFL should implement a new rule that would allow teams to have a right of refusal for two-three free agents on their team. Essentially teams should be able to “restrict” two-three free agents. Landing them compensation in the event that they don’t match the offer of another team. It’s the only way consistency can be returned to the NFL. The 49ers were very fortunate to return 20 of their 22 starters to the team this season. But how many other teams can boast that? This proposed rule change would make it possible. It would give players a chance to make a name for themselves.

As for the veterans, the salary pool to be instituted over next off-season is a start. But certainly there should be greater relief to allow players who have given the better part of their adulthood to a team to stay with that team. Players who have been with a team for eight years or more should simply be exempt from the salary cap.

Rules such as these two would allow teams a continuity that doesn’t exist in today’s football state. It would certainly satisfy fans not to see there stars hitting the road so quickly. To be honest I don’t see a down side to these changes, but I’d love to hear from those of you who do.

Talk about it in the 49ers Paradise Forum

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