Free agency will slow down as draft nears

The deals for veteran players will not stop this coming week but they’re going to slow down.

It’s been a frustrating period for veteran players, many of them starters for several seasons. The free-agent market has not been what players have expected and since the opening 72-hour bonanza of free agency, most have been forced to sign one-year contracts.

A mostly flat salary cap has forced teams to be frugal and rank-and-file players simply are not being valued like they were before. Agents have had to talk their clients through frustrating moments, educating them along the way. What was there for similar players three and four years ago – multi-year deals with solid signing bonuses – is gone.

Deals are going to slow down because teams are going to shift the focus from free agency to the draft, which is now less than four weeks away. They will look to fill remaining roster holes with cheaper players on rookie contracts. That’s going to create another issue for veterans after the draft is some teams will be cutting experienced players they believe have been replaced via the draft.

So, that will once again create a little bit of a shopping rush as NFL clubs seek bargains post-draft in the first week of May. For the remaining unsigned players, it’s probably not going to be a fun time. That is why you hear plenty of folks grumbling about the CBA.

Follow me on Twitter: @BradBiggs

Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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