Since negotiations over the most recent CBA ramped up, levying collusion claims against NFL owners has become the equivalent of Tupac assassination theories or Jay-Z's Illuminati connections. Everybody in the league has a claim, but they are rarely substantiated.
During the offseason, quarterbacks have been collecting coins Super Mario-style. However, while the quarterback contract bubble is booming, defensive ends were in crisis mode. The pass rushers tasked with canceling out $100 million quarterbacks and plating them on their backs have been forced to take pay cuts or struggled to find deals of any kind. Defensive end Dwight Freeney experienced that firsthand as he spent four months on an NFL tour searching for a franchise that would pay him top dollar. However, after settling on a two-year $8.75 million deal, he discovered that market value for defensive ends has tanked.
However, Freeney believes the dry markket for defensive free agents is a product of 32 nefarious owners.
Via CBS Sports:
In an interview with CBSSports.com, Freeney, who eventually signed with the San Diego Chargers, stated on the record what many players and agents -- and I mean a lot of them -- have been stating privately.
"I basically think the owners got together and decided not to spend the cash on free agents," Freeney explained. "I definitely think that's part of it. I think the owners made a pact. There's only 32 of them and none of them broke ranks. I think they all decided not to spend money."
The NFLPA was so concerned about collusion that executive director DeMaurice Smith sent a memo to all player agents asking if agents found proof of collusion, they should notify the union. Smith wrote, "We have heard reports of a concern that teams are working in concert to ‘peg', ‘rig' or ‘set' market prices on player contracts. If you believe or have information that the teams have been colluding during this free agency period, you have a responsibility as an agent of the NFLPA to come forward and share that information with us.”
Smith added in the letter: "We have heard anecdotally that some teams are inaccurately reporting that they are facing salary cap restrictions on resigning veteran players. While this is a common allegation and teams are free to make their own determinations on signing players, we provide this information to aid you in accurately evaluating each team's actual salary cap room.”