View From Across the Pond – End of the Lock Out Sparks Free Agency Scramble.

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Since then the way that contracts are negotiated in soccer have changed radically, transferring all the power from the club to the player. A soccer player signs a contract with a club and remains with that club either until his deal expires, or he is sold to another club for a transfer fee. However in the final 6 months of that contract a player is free to negotiate a move to another club.

So a player could sign a three year deal. What tends to happen is that at the end of the first year or midway through the second, the club if they wish to keep the player, will enter negotiations to improve the contract or to resign him. If the player enters the final year of his contract, the ball is firmly in his court, so clubs try not to let this situation occur. The player if he wishes to make a move will allow his contract to run out and move clubs, saving his new team money on transfer fees and netting himself the cash which his new club may have been willing to spend on him.

I now understand that this is the equivalent to Unrestricted Free Agency. Titans on the UFA list include Jason Babin, Ahmard Hall, Randy Moss, Bo Scaife, David Thornton and Stephen Tulloch. Randy Moss would not be a real miss but all the others have had a part to play and if Scaife was to depart that would, in my opinion be a massive blow.

Soccer has seen an exception brought in, whereas a player under the age of 23 is unable to move clubs for nothing, and the buying club have to pay a fee for the “development” of the player. This is the equivalent of Restricted Free Agency, something the Titans don’t have any particular worries over.

The Franchise player tag is one area where I am a little confused. As far as I can see, one player is allowed to receive a guarantee of a maximum 20% pay increase to secure their services for an additional season. With Chris Johnson expected to hold out for a better contract, it makes perfect sense in my eyes to designate CJ2K as the Titans franchise player. I am not 100% sure if this has been the case previously, with Vince Young also at the ball club, but in my opinion this is a no-brainer (however, on this issue remember I have no brain!)

The other major difference between the soccer that I know and the football that I need to know more about is the Salary Cap. It’s an idea which is gaining greater and greater credence in soccer, as the wages players can now command, whilst not on the scale of those of players in American sport are getting to that stage.  My understanding is that the Titans have no issues with this and with the inevitable cutting of Vince Young, will have additional funds available. Some of this cash will be surely be used to tie Jake Locker to a long term deal, with his pay to rise in increments depending on his performance. Locker has impressed many with his commitment to the Titans, and was in fact the first player to arrive at Training Camp this morning. He is keen to be the starting quarterback, but it makes sense, if money is available to bring in a veteran quarterback to mentor him through the transition from College ball to the bigs. It seems inevitable tonight, if Twitter is to believed, that Matt Hasselbeck will be that man, also making the trip from the state of Washington to Tennessee.

The next few days promise to keep my Twitter timeline busy as the Free Agency market, which usually happens over a four month period is crammed into two weeks. By the next time I “cross” the pond we should have a better idea of how the Titans will line up, and allow me to cast my inexpert eye across the roster and look forward to the first pre-season weekend.