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Is Bryant McFadden Increasingly Likely To Re-Sign With Pittsburgh With Each Passing Day?

Here are the CBs who have signed new contracts since the 2009 edition of Free Agency in the National Football League commenced last Firday morning at 12 o'clock midnight.

2009 Free Agent CBs Already Signed
DeAngelo Hall Washington Redskins 6 / $48 million ($12)
Kelvin Hayden Indianapolis Colts 5 / $43 million ($22.5)
Domonique Foxworth Baltimore Ravens 4 / $28 million ($16.5)
Joselio Hanson Philadelphia Eagles 5 / $21 million ($6.4)

Ok, in recent years, I've noticed like the rest of us that a handful of guys at each position quickly get acquired by a deep pocketed and usually short sighted owner. Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder comes to mind. He's not alone though.

A quick aside - how in good goodness's sake has DeAngelo Hall gotten away with highway robbery again in his career. He already got one ridiculously huge contract with gobs of guaranteed money that he basically flaked on. When he was paid chump change last year in a contract year he delivered. And now you're going to give him the stars and moons again so soon? Ay yi yi.  That's like fool me once...shame on...the pont is...

Where was I?  So each year guys like Asante Samuel, Kelvin Hayden, Dominique Foxworth and others finish their rookie contracts or are still in that age window of 25-29 where they're going to get big bucks. Quarterbacks, Offensive Tackles, Cornerbacks. All get paid in today's NFL..

Cornerbacks, unlike any other position on defense really, can command top dollar in today's bargaining powers for talent if they so happen to be in the peak years of their physical prime.  Steelers CB Bryant McFadden is in that exact situation. He's waited patiently for a chance to make some good scratch and he's waited his turn to play, mostly because incumbent Deshea Townsend miraculously ratcheted up his game two or three notches in the past two years despite being quite a bit on the over side of 30 (he'll be 34 this year). But something strange has happened. Teams are being more prudent in most instances than in years past. That's not to say that giving Albert '12 games per season at best' Haynesworth $100 million was prudent. But league wide, are you seeing a free for all spending spree in this year's free agency game compared to recent memory? I sure haven't.

This will be the next thing I'd like to explore about this subject - are economic and labor issues diminishing 'consumer spending'. We all know psychology has a lot to do with how markets work. Man, I'll just leave it at this for now. Too bad Drew Rosenhaus is representing him. 

Or is that necessarily the case? Rosenhaus may lack an alibi with regards to the development of certain financial issues in the current Collective Bargaining Agreement over the years (read: rookie contracts for starters). But he knows the internals of what drives the 800 pound gorilla that is the NFL - money. Better than just about anyone. Hell, he basically writes the rules as he goes along. But he's no sucker and not foolish enough to know certain realities. Or maybe it would suffice to just say that Rosenhaus may have bigger fish to fry now that it's evident that the points on McFadden's contract aren't going to be what puts dinner on the table helps add to his island collection in the South Pacific.

Let's be clear - I'm realistic about the likelihood of McFadden returning. I don't think it's particularly promising. I'll decline making a guess % wise, but less than 50/50 for sure. When the Steelers had not announced anything before the clock struck midnight last Friday night, it was reasonable to then assume that McFadden was on his way out of town to cash in a fat paycheck in some other market.

Well, not so fast. Four days later and he's still not signed anywhere. From the sound of it, Drew Rosenhaus's phone(s) aren't blowing up either with executives on the other end of the line asking what it's going to take to get BMac in their teams' colors.

All this led me to wonder - what is the usual time line for free agency? In other words, what happens after that first frenzy of signings? I know you'll read 'things slow down and 2nd tier guys get signed', but that doesn't tell much of a complete picture. At least not to me. It turns out this was vastly more of a pain in the ass than I imagined without quite the conclusive results I was hoping for, but nevertheless, below you will find an attempt to break down what exactly happened day by day last year in 2008 for Free Agent Cornerbacks.



February 27th - start of free agency

June 1st - Deadline for old clubs to send tender to unsigned unrestricted free agents to receive exclusive negotiating rights for rest of season if player is not signed by another club by July 22; Deadline for old clubs to send tender to unsigned restricted free agents or to extend qualifying offer to retain exclusive negotiating rights.

June 15th - Deadline for old clubs to withdraw original qualifying offer to unsigned restricted free agents and still retain exclusive negotiating rights by substituting tender of 110 percent of previous year's salary.

Let's take a look. I dug up an article from March 3rd that listed the Free Agent signings within the first few days of the 'trading' floor being open for business.

Here's some of the CBs that were snagged in the initial rush that accompanies the commencement of free agency. You'll notice though that things quiet down pretty fast.

2008 URFA CBs - Signed With New Teams

February 27th - March 3rd Signings (all but two were high profile, highly coveted corners):

  • Keith Smith (DET) - 2 year deal -one of the two non-prize acquisitions
  • Jacques Reeves (HOU)
  • Drayton Florence (Jacksonville)
  • Randall Gay (NO)
  • Asante Samuel (PHI)
  • Ricardo Colclough (CAR) - no, not a misprint, and yes, he's what Malcolm Gladwell might call an 'Outlier'.

March 4th: No additional CBs had been signed that day.

March 5th: Jason Webster (New England)

March 13th: Frank Walker (Baltimore Ravens) - 2 year >$4 mil deal

March 14th: Brian Kelly (Detroit Lions)

March 17th: Nathan Jones (Dallas Cowboys)

March 18th: William James (Buffalo Bills)

March 20th: David Macklin (St. Louis Rams)

Marc 25th: Benny Sapp (Minnesota Vikings)

April 7th: Aaron Glenn (New Orleans Saints) 

May 22nd: Terry Cousin (Cleveland Browns) - marginal player, recently had contract terminated.

As you can see above, it was pretty much first few days or bust for URFA CBs testing the market in 2008.  Frank Walker - better known to Steelers fans as the dude who got so scared Spikey Reed might take it out on him like a Sheetz towel dispenser that he spit in Mitch Berger's mouth - is the only FA CB from last year that got any sort of deal after the first weekend. It wasn't that impressive though, only a couple years at a couple mil per year.

2008 URFA CBs - Signed With Current Teams

February 29th - Keith Smith (Detroit Lions)

March 4th - Nick Sorensen (Denver Broncos)

March 5th - Travis Fisher (Denver Broncos) - 3 years / $5 million

March 13th - Gary Baxter (Cleveland Browns)

March 18th - Bryan Scott (Buffalo Bills)

March 20th - Will Demps (Houston Texans)

April 3rd: Ralph Brown (Arizona Cardinals) - 1 year deal

The any one of the above players who re-signed with their old teams for any noteworthy amount of money (and it was just barely) was Travis Fisher of Denver. Bryant McFadden, whether he ends up in Pittsburgh or elsewhere, will get paid vastly more than that. So really, unfortunately, there's nothing to point to from last year at least that might indicate that there's a precedent for teams re-signing their guys after they've put their feet in the deep end of the free agent waters.

I'm still trying to put my finger exactly on the trends that might delineate the free agency process in this great league we love so much but obviously one year is not enough of a sample size to make any sort of conclusions. And the data above doesn't much help unmuddle the picture.

So, this was not intended to make the case for Bryant McFadden. I know that the Steelers front office knows what they're doing. Probably better than any other front office in the entire league. But as I discussed with BadMaafala on the site earlier, the NFL is not only about football. It's about money too. Perhaps more so than anything else. For that reason Bryant McFadden likely won't be back in the Black 'N Gold next year, but it doesn't have much to do with the fact that William Gay is as good or close to as good. It has to do with money. And if one does think that the game is merely about playing the best players at all time, you can't legitimately claim in my opinion that the Steelers can let B-Mac walk AND not spend significant capital this coming Draft on acquiring talent to replace the likely departure of the hard hitting CB.