At one point during his press conference last week for his new contract, Adrian Wilson thanked his agents for "getting this deal done … I guess as quickly as they could." A-Dub chuckled a bit when he said that, but there is little question he would have liked to have it done a little sooner. Everyone probably would have. But these are the new realities of the NFL.
Hammering out the deal wasn't too hard, at least for most of it. The holdup at the end had less to do with the two sides not giving in as much as it did with the sides trying to maneuver the rules thanks to the impending uncapped season in 2010 (Wilson's final cap number turned out to be in the range of $9.7 million, less than the reported $10-plus million because of tweaking thanks to those salary cap rules). The rules are going to make it tougher for any team to do bigger contracts for any star players.
Here's why it could really be a problem. To start, no one knows for sure if next year will be uncapped, even though it seems likely as the months pass. Even if there is an uncapped year – and even though the players' union has long insisted they will never go back to a salary cap if it goes away – teams can't know for sure there won't be a cap in the future. There could be no cap in 2010 and a cap again in 2011, or at least some kind of salary control. All your contracts would have to fit into that mechanism. As has been pointed out in many different places, the rules in place for an uncapped year don't guarantee free-flowing free agent money. Most importantly, the economy has an effect on all these talks. That's going to slow any contract negotiations, probably for a while.