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ColtsBlueFL

An inside Team free agent philosophy (long)

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Fans and media get enamored with free agency, but those experienced and shrewd in the business of making such team decisions on free agents have some basic rules dictated by their experience.  I'm fortunate to have access to them and thoughts about them from some. (it is even edited for forum brevity)

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80-85% of the time an FA is a bad value because a team has decided that a players projected production will no longer match the price his contract demands.

 

15-20% of the time, players can be on the market simply because teams are being squeezed by the cap. (too many good players to keep).  These have higher value, but the scarcity drives up the price, so it still is not great value.

 

Rarely do true difference makers hit FA, and they will be exceptionally expensive.

 

Because of the salary cap impingement, a free agent must be productive (600+ plays per year) and have longevity. More mistakes are made in free agency at the cornerback position than any other.

 

Never sign a player 27 or older to a 5 year deal, nor a 4 year deal for a player 28 and older.  Never sign any high risk injury player to long term deal.

 

You must evaluate the player, establish the schematic fit and establish the right price. Never, ever sign a player and change his technique or schematic fit. It just doesn’t work.

 

Be cautious of the player who's production dramatically increases in their contract year. Teams are more likely to be paying for the production of that contract year while getting the lower production from those non contract years.

 

The team needs to carry  at least $6 million in cap resources (preferably $10 million) into the season for replacement(s) for injured players. This is after off season-

 

FA signings

Spending $6- 8 million for rookie draft pool

Spending $1 million of cap space allocated for practice squad players

 

Stick to your budget. If the team spends recklessly, there will inevitably come a time when there's a need for the money that you no longer have. Spending Tier I money on a Tier II player only inflates what you have to pay your own Tier I player when it is time. The salary cap eventually penalizes severely for overpaying players relative to what their production value is.

 

Player must be at least a good or great 3rd down player. Any high priced FA must be on the field and productive for those critical downs.

 

Do not sign a player for more than the team leader or your best player at that position. This about rewarding loyalty and maintaining a balanced cost structure within your team because otherwise it creates bad locker room chemistry. Players know. They do.

 

Never believe that your locker room culture will change a person’s behavior. This is rarely the case and when it does work it is only on a minimum salary short deal. Giving a large money or long term deal in this situation RARELY works if ever.

 

You're never 'one player away' from a Super Bowl because there is a 100% injury rate in this sport.

 

Ignore the outside noise. A segment of the fan base will be unhappy. The local media will be unhappy, the agents will be unhappy and you are sure to hear that you are not trying to win.

 

** STAY FOCUSED—REMEMBER THE MISSION**
Every one looks out for their own interest. You have to look out for the best interest for the team and stay focused on that. Set a price that is fair and if that price escalates, walk away. You are not in a church auction. You run a football team. If you do so, your cap will be well managed which is absolutely essential for sustained success and you will have the ability to sign your own free agents first. They are the priority when you are a good team,  and you are a good team because you draft well.

 

Always remember that the free agent you lose hurts you more than he helps his new team. This is why historical trends show that it takes a free agent changing teams and systems almost a year to fit and become really efficient.

 

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I didn't write these excerpts, but written by one has been there and did the job before they penned a very long list.  I trimmed it down slightly for the forum.

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Best post on here in a long time.  It really helps us understand what may be going on in Chris Ballard's mind.

 

 

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The locker room chemistry is crucial. You want all of your team to feel that they are contributing and of value to your overall success. " Esprit de Corps"

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13 hours ago, ColtsBlueFL said:

Do not sign a player for more than the team leader or your best player at that position. This about rewarding loyalty and maintaining a balanced cost structure within your team because otherwise it creates bad locker room chemistry. Players know. They do.

 

This one really resonated with me.  These are the intangibles of a ball club.  With Ballard's model, adding a high-priced name could be disastrous.  Here's to sticking with the plan.

 

Overall great read and thanks for posting.  I've become infatuated with the management process.  As a savvy Fantasy Football player, I'm becoming more invested in knowing specific elements of ball clubs such as turnover, coordinator/HC change, and scheme change.  

 

This stuff is gold.

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