Free Agency

Andre Miller, Free Agent

Andre Miller, Free Agent

Every year, there is excitement around which NHL or NBA free agents might sign in Philadelphia.  This year is no exception as the Flyers struggle to resign their own free agent, Mike Knuble, while the Sixers are dealing with Andre Miller, similarly.  Here’s my take on free agency:  I hate it. 

I hate for all it could be, but isn’t.  Here’s the deal – every team has to abide by a salary cap.  In the NHL it is hard cap with a minimum to be spent.  In the NBA there is a soft cap allowing teams to go over the cap for their own players and/or pay a luxury tax if they go over the cap.  Both salary cap systems have their strengths and weaknesses, but both don’t allow any wiggle room for free agency.  Free agency is all in the players’ hands, especially, the players in demand.  Free agency has come down to which team can pay the player the most amount of money. 

A few quick examples, Brian Dawkins signed for the most amount of money in Denver, when the Eagles had offered a similar, but less money contract.  Jim Thome signed with the Phillies a few years ago for the most amount of money even though his current team for many years offered him a pretty solid contract.  He was encouraged to take the money.  The NBA and NHL are no different.  Carlos Boozer opted out of his contract, rejected a solid offer from the Cavaliers and subsequently signed for an immense amount of money with the Utah Jazz.  Danny Briere of the Flyers signed for the most amount of money, instead of settling for a little less to play for his hometown team, the Montreal Canadiens.  Get the point?  It’s all about making the players wealthy. 

I want free agency to be about keeping teams together, providing chemistry building opportunities and finding an exciting player that isn’t on anyone’s radar.  Instead it’s about money and worrying about teams spending too close to the salary cap.  Wouldn’t it be great if there was an incentive for players to resign with their old clubs, if their clubs want them back, just like in the Miller and Knuble situations?  Since owners and teams have restrictions on their spending, shouldn’t the players be prevented from being overpaid?  To develop some significant loyalty to all sports leagues and it starts by finding a way to keep teams together, with significantly less talk about money and more talk about winning.

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