Le'Veon Bell

Le'Veon Bell defied the Pittsburgh Steelers by sitting out in favor of receiving a bigger contract. 

Free agency gives too much power to money and not the teams

Andrew Oliveros | Contributing writer

The NFL’s 100th season is approaching and has had a mark on our nation like no other. NFL teams originally evolved their players to try to become the best team they could possibly before free agency was established, rather than today when many teams just buy their talent through the huge mess of free agency.

It’s understandable that players want to get the money they feel they’re due, but this creates the chaos of deciding who’s more deserving of getting the big contract when free agency comes along. During free agency, a player makes the case that he deserves a certain amount of money, and if he doesn’t get the offer he wants, then he’ll just go somewhere else to play.

Imagine if free agency existed when Joe Montana played with Jerry Rice on the 49ers and Jerry Rice said he believes he’s worth top dollar. If the 49ers said they were not going to give him a big contract just yet and give one to Montana instead, Rice would likely leave. This would have ended the dynamic duo of Montana and Rice , and NFL fans would have never seen the magic they displayed on the football field.

Free agency also destroys chemistry that needs to be built with time from the players. If players are moving from team to team because they want more money, the NFL will eventually become just a bunch of individuals playing football. A football team is a family, and if they keep getting separated, players and fans will never get to see the potential a team can build from.

Free agency is creating the NFL into a league that the biggest bidders win. Look at the mess that was created because of running back Le’Veon Bell. Bell wanted the big dollars, but the Pittsburgh Steelers weren’t ready to say he was the franchise running back. This was because he wasn’t always consistent on the field and had off-field issues, too. Bell was so certain of his value that he sat out all year just because he couldn’t get the money he desired. Not only did Bell not get his money until the offseason, but the Steelers suffered on the field without his talented presence.

Though Bell got what he wanted, the big paycheck from the Jets in free agency has made the Jets actually have a chance to succeed in the league this year. The Jets have struggled for quite some time but are now projected to do well this year with the addition of Bell and wide receiver Jamison Crowder. The list goes on with teams like the Jets who would rather buy some of their star talent rather than just improving the players they drafted who they saw potential in from the beginning.

At the end of the day, free agency puts the player before the game. If a player really cares about football, he should care about the success of his team before his paycheck. The NFL should build a team of winners, not buy a team of winners.

Contact Andrew Oliveros at oliverab@dukes.jmu.edu. For more sports coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.

NFL free agency gives players the opportunity of another chance 

Jordan Simal | The Breeze

Imagine an NFL without free agency — a league where players weren’t able to determine their fate and bet on themselves to better their careers or play for second chances. In the history of pro football, free agency has improved the careers of players like Jerome Bettis, Clinton Portis, Charles Woodson, Deion Sanders and Kurt Warner. Without free agency, some of the greatest success stories in the history of pro sports would’ve never come to fruition.

Rather than focusing on the personal impact that free agency can bring to pro football, some would rather focus on the financial aspects, claiming that players are being overpaid and are bankrupting their new organizations. Others only focus on the negative aspects of NFL free agency. One’s perspective of gambling on the free agent market can also be biased based on the success or failures of their respective football team.

Teams like the Washington Redskins are infamous for being destroyed financially and on the field from free agency. Players like Adam Archuleta, Albert Haynesworth, Donovan McNabb and Jeff George have buried the Redskins in free agency throughout the team’s history.

However, there have been countless examples of great free agent pickups in NFL history. After free agency was first introduced in 1993, some of the greatest stories involved in the fabric of the NFL began.

Drew Brees is one of the figureheads of the NFL and was arguably the best quarterback in the league last season. Having played for the San Diego Chargers at the beginning of his career, Brees’ signing with New Orleans at the specific point in time made an impact on both the team and the city that called the Saints home.

Following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans — a franchise so historically bad they were nicknamed the “Aints” — recruited Brees to play for a broken city that was trying to overcome loss in more than just football. The Saints weren’t even able to play football in New Orleans in 2005 due to the city-wide damage from one of the most notorious natural disasters in American history.

Brees signed with the Saints in 2006 and the impact was seen immediately, most notably on Monday Night Football during the third week of the season where New Orleans defeated Michael Vick — who the Philadelphia Eagles would eventually obtain in free agency — and the Atlanta Falcons in a fashion never before seen from a Saints team. Although Brees and New Orleans fell to the Chicago Bears in the 2006 NFC Championship Game, the Saints won their franchise’s first Super Bowl just three years later and are still in the hunt to win one now with Brees still playing great football.

Other players, such as Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner, impacted franchises who had never tasted success before. Warner brought the Arizona Cardinals to their franchise’s only Super Bowl in 2008 after being signed off free agency.

The 2000 Baltimore Ravens benefited from two particular free agents in their Super Bowl XXXV Championship season. Safety Rod Woodson was a force in Baltimore’s punishing defense and tight end Shannon Sharpe’s impact helped quarterback Trent Dilfer throughout the season to get Baltimore a Super Bowl in the fifth year of the franchise’s history.

Even lately, teams like the Cleveland Browns and their fans finally have a reason to be hopeful following arguably the most dismal chapter in franchise history. Following a 3-36-1 record under former coach Hue Jackson, player signings like Pro Bowl wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson after Cleveland’s best record in years has brought a much-needed spark to a team that went 0-16 just two years ago.

Free agency helps bring successful change to franchises who are in need of it and has proved itself successful since being introduced 26 years ago. Big money may be involved, but teams like New Orleans and Arizona who never had major success prior to their free agency signings would argue that the money was worth it.

Teams like Cleveland have momentum again because of free agency for the first time since the Kardiac Kids of the ’80s. That alone makes free agency worth it.

Contact Jordan Simal at simaljg@dukes.jmu.edu. For more sports coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.