A few months ago, the NFL, which is the most prosperous professional sports league in the world announced that it was laying off over 1,000 employees from its various offices. The economic downturn had officially hit the National Football League.
NFL free agency is just a few weeks away and some folks are wondering if this will affect what free agents can get. Jim Steiner, who is an agent with CAA Football, has said that although the country is in rough economic times, the talents of quality free agents such a safety Brian Dawkins and tackle Jon Runyan (Philadelphia Eagles) and quarterback Byron Leftwich (Pittsburgh Steelers) will still attract lucrative offers.
In an interview with ESPN.com’s Paul Kuharsky, Steiner said, “The teams are still sharing their television revenues as they have in the past, the contracts haven’t changed.” He also said. “We have always historically followed baseball and if you follow baseball’s lead this year, then the early going was business as usual.”
That may be true, but the clue to that comment may be found in the phrase “the early going was business as usual.” The economy was much better, relatively speaking, when baseball free agency started and it got worse as it went on.
The fiscal situation in the U.S. and the rest of the world has worsened precipitously in the past six to eight weeks. This downward trend may result in fewer teams being interested in the better players, and with less competition, premium players may attract lower offers.
And although television revenues are still being shared, many NFL clubs will also have to assess other revenues such as those associated with team paraphernalia. We’ll soon see if the dire economic status will affect pro football. In the past, the economy has always been the economy and with the country’s situation worsening, it’s hard to believe that it won’t have some effect on this free agent market.