Jets Face Challenges Without New Collective Bargaining Agreement

Jets Face Challenges Without New Collective Bargaining Agreement As NFL players and owners prepare for an uncapped season, teams like the Jets are left with difficult decisions this offseason.

The Jets, along with seven other teams, face the challenge of having to deal with the "Elite Eight" rule. Under the NFL's current collective bargaining agreement, the eight divisional round playoff teams cannot sign an unrestricted free agent unless they lose one of their own unrestricted free agents. In addition, if one of the eight teams loses a free agent, it can sign another unrestricted free agent only to a contract that matches the value of the contract the team’s unrestricted free agent signed.

Sounds confusing, doesn't it? Maybe an example will clarify the rule.

Jets fullback Tony Richardson is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent when NFL free agency begins March 5. If Richardson signs a contract with Team X for $2 million next season, the Jets can sign an unrestricted free agent to a contract worth the same amount to replace Richardson.

The rule may be difficult to understand, but Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum understands the "Elite Eight" rule well.

"It's another challenge," Tannenbaum told The Newark Star-Ledger. "We'll embrace it, and there are ways to improve the team."

The Jets have six unrestricted free agents this offseason, including Richardson, kicker Jay Feeley and inside linebacker and special teams star Larry Izzo. For a team that made it to the conference championship game this season, the lack of a new collective bargaining agreement leaves the Jets with plenty of questions this offseason.

Where will Thomas Jones play next season? Will restricted free agents Braylon Edwards and Leon Washington return? How will Mark Sanchez' knee injury impact the team's offseason plans?

Needless to say, it should be an intriguing offseason for Rex Ryan and the Jets.

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