The signing of veteran linebacker Brandon Chillar may only be the beginning. The Packers locked up the former St. Louis Rams player for 4 years and a reported 21 million dollars. Will the deal dominoes start falling for the rest of the guys with contracts coming due at the end of the 2009 season? Vice President of Football Administration Russ Ball is staring down a long list of key players who will become free agents in a matter of months. Because the NFL is heading into an uncapped year in March of 2010 because of the expiring collective bargaining agreement, only players with at least 6 years of service will become unrestricted. Under the current CBA, players become free agents after 4 years. Its one of the caveats to convince the players a re-negotiated CBA is in their best interests. As for the Packers, Chillar's name comes off that UFA list, leaving Mark Tauscher, Chad Clifton, Aaron Kampman and Ryan Pickett. Even more front line players will become restricted free agents when their contracts run out in February. That list includes Atari Bigby, John Kuhn, Nick Collins, Tramon Williams, Jason Spitz, Daryn Colledge and Johnny Jolly. If your Ball, who's next? For how long? For how much? On the unrestricted list, Kampman has the most value league wide, but he'll be coming off major knee surgery and likely won't be able to work out for teams until mid-summer at the earliest. Among the restricted players, the only one considered expendable is Kuhn. Ball has some wiggle room with one uncapped year coming and the Packers have plenty of cap space to play with but he may need Howie Mandel's advice when it comes to long term contracts and big money for a Pro Bowler like Collins and expected offensive line mainstays like Spitz and Colledge. It will be an interesting game of deal or no deal this off-season.
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