Four years for unrestricted free agency?

Stewart Bradley could be a free agent under a proposal for changes to NFL free agency rules. (Yong Kim/Staff file photo)

Back in March, when the Eagles tendered several restricted free agents, each report came with the caveat that the designation could prove to be meaningless.

With restricted free agents, the Eagles are allowed to match offers from other teams.

But according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, if and when a labor agreement is reached, unrestricted free agency will revert to pre-2010 rules, meaning players with four years of service or more will be able to test the open market without any restrictions.

Last offseason, players were required to have six years of service to become unrestricted free agents.

This is not a surprise, but it's still newsworthy, considering that the owners met today in Chicago and details about a proposed agreement began to trickle out.

So how would the free agency rules affect the Eagles?

The most obvious implication is that several of their players will be able to test the open market. Specifically, those guys are: Stewart Bradley, Jerome Harrison, Max Jean-Gilles, Dimitri Patterson and Sav Rocca.

Now, keep in mind, nothing has been agreed on, and we are still in a lockout.

But if the rules revert to four years, the Eagles will have even more decisions to make.

How attractive is Bradley to other teams? That's a tough question to answer. I still think the Eagles believe in him, but they have drafted a number of linebackers in the past two years.

If Harrison bolts, the Eagles could very well be in the market for a backup running back. And Rocca is an interesting name too.

Of course, there's the other side of the equation as well. The pool of free agents the Eagles can go after will be expanded also.


The ESPN report by Chris Mortensen had several more details on the proposed deal that the owners met about.

One of the more interesting nuggets is that a 16-game Thursday night schedule starting in 2012 could be part of the mix. And per reports, at least part of the package would be sold on the open market, providing a new source of revenue for the league.

Pro Football Talk is hearing that the final eight Thursday night games could remain on NFL Network and the league could sell the first eight to another network, but again, nothing is set in stone.

From a fan's perspective, this means another night of the NFL every week: Sunday, Monday and Thursday (It also means fantasy owners will have to step up their games and have lineups set earlier in the week!).

Overall, it seemed like a positive day in Chicago, but we've heard hints of optimism at various times over the last several months. As has been the case for awhile now, we'll just have to wait and see what happens next.

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