Pat Kirwan of NFL.com has an interesting article up about the effects of having the draft before free agency, and it brings up a very interesting aspect. With the run on offensive tackles and defensive linemen in the first round, teams are less likely to pay big money to veterans of those positions in free agency.
I think you really have to look closely at which positions flooded the first-round market and which positions didn’t to determine if the reverse order (draft before free agency) is good for the veterans. That being said, I can’t imagine any defensive ends or offensive tackles who are sitting at home hoping for a big pay day enjoyed watching the draft. Six players from each position were taken off the board in the first round, which means 12 teams are no longer looking to pay a veteran big money. If you factor in the second round, it probably means another five teams are uninterested in veteran talent at a big price.
Kirwan’s point ties directly into Matt Light and his future with the New England Patriots.
Matt Light, a Patriot and protector of Tom Brady’s blindside since 2001, is to be a free agent once the free agency period starts. Light figured to already have been re-signed by the Pats by the time the draft started, had free agency started on -schedule. It likely would have been a two- or three-year deal, not for top dollar, but for a fairly decent payday. Now, not only does it look like Light will have to take a pay cut to stay with the Pats or any other team, but he is no longer a near-certainty to return to New England and end his career. The drafting of OT Nate Solder may have been the nail in the coffin.
One has to wonder if the Pats would have utilized the same strategy on draft day and taken a tackle as high as they did, or if they would have gone for a defensive lineman or outside linebacker, had they already re-signed Light. Perhaps they would have waited and drafted one in Round 2 or 3. Either way, the players’ holdout may have hurt their own brethren. Matt Light could still re-sign with the Patriots, but it will likely not be for the money he would have gotten prior to the draft.
At what point does the “players union” feel that holding out isn’t worth it anymore? Have they reached that point?