Free Agency has not officially begun, as the new CBA still has yet to be ratified, but the ball is already rolling behind the scenes for player agents and teams. Agents are a savvy bunch. These guys are already working the phones, gauging and creating interest in their clients in attempt to define the market on given clients. By doing this, the agent has a few bullets in his gun that teams simply will not be able to have going into negotiations. Once the CBA hits, teams will have a three day period to get their own free agents under contract before they hit the open market. This 72-hour timeframe is where the agent’s hard work to set the market on their guys will come to fruition. While teams will be working feverishly to try and gauge the interest in their players, the reality is that their ability to accurately define the market will be severely limited, giving agents the ability to leverage bigger contracts for their clients through playing a “liar’s poker game.”
The Ravens are facing several tough contract negotiations this offseason, but many around the league agree that Marshal Yanda is priority number one in Baltimore. It is imperative for Ozzie Newsome and his front office staff to find out what it will take to get a deal done in that 72-hour window. The team must deal with Neil Cornrich, who is Yanda’s agent, in order to bring the big guy back. Neil will have talked to every team that has an interest and has a very good idea what range they will be in regard to years, guarantees, salary and whether he would be playing Guard or Tackle, etc. Knowledge is power and the fact is that Cornrich really has more power here. The Ravens, if they want a deal in their exclusive signing period, really have no choice but to believe what agents tell them about the market. Agents will definitely be providing teams with a slightly skewed view of the market within that three day window to get their clients more money. This is no different in the Marshal Yanda situation. The Ravens have a number in mind for Marshal Yanda, and Neil Cornrich has a number in mind. If the Ravens believe Yanda is not worth what he is asking, they could take a risk and let him test the waters of Free Agency. This tactic would give the team a more accurate definition of the market on their free agent, but they would also run the risk of losing him. There is a distinct possibility that players, like Marshal, will take exception if their teams refuse to give them deals during the exclusive signing period, and are more likely to start calling another city home. If Marshal gets to Free Agency, I think it will be tough for the Ravens to convince him to come back and they will have to revert to Plan B, whatever that may be.