Free Agency: hard to love, impossible to hate

Al Messerschmidt

I’m a sucker for the value of team and a player’s loyalty to it. But I also hate to lose.

I have a love/hate relationship with free agency.

In principle, I’m against it.

It always means you lose players who have become part of the team. Players like Eric Decker, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Zane Beadles, Wesley Woodyard, Shaun Phillips, and Knowshon Moreno. Sometimes they want to go, sometimes management needs them to go for the salary cap...no matter the reason, it almost always hurts a little.

But if I’m honest, my beloved Denver Broncos have benefited from free agency – and massively so – in recent years.

This year is no exception.

But despite Elway's superior chess moves over the last weeks with Aquib Talib, T.J. Ward, Demarcus Ware and Emmanuel Sanders, I still can’t fully love it.

Free Agency has theoretically been in the NFL since 1947, but it has been ruining the definition of "team" since 1992 when "unrestricted free agents" were given leverage to shop around for a team that would pay them.

I get all the reasons it makes sense on both sides of the equation –

  • Players shouldn't be owned by a team forever without some say in where they play and how much they're worth;
  • Teams and players both benefit from moves that help players fit better with an offensive and defensive scheme;
  • GMs should be able to make room for younger players by negotiating out of expensive contracts.

All these make good business sense, promote parity in the league and inflate a lot of players’ paychecks in the marketplace (which I’m not opposed to if they deliver).

I want to love free agency, but I’m a sucker for the value of team and a player’s loyalty to it.

I hate that free agency means some of my favorite players will be gone a few years after being drafted, that my orange jerseys will have different names on them than the ones I own, that I’ll feel conflicted when I want to root against them on rival teams, and that when all is said and done, it means money wins out over camaraderie, team cohesion and long-term championship goals for many of my favorites.

But I also hate to lose.

So, after the last few weeks, I guess I kinda love free agency.

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