For the first time since the NFL launched a system of free agency that relies heavily on a salary cap, a healthy complement of veteran quarterbacks soon will hit the open market. And even though recent growth in the salary cap indicates that someone already should be making more than $30 million per year at the quarterback position, there’s a not-so-subtle sense emerging that teams will refuse to overspend.

It could be coincidental, fueled by a mutual realization based on Jacksonville’s decision to keep Blake Bortles at $18 million per year that it becomes impossible to contend if too much money is devoted to the quarterback position. It also could be deliberately coincidental; it could be the product of collusion.

Yes, collusion happens. Yes, it’s hard to prove collusion. (Colin Kaepernick‘s pending grievance may prove otherwise.) Regardless, the league has a built-in structure for communicating to teams cautionary tales of overspending, and for nudging them away from blowing the curve. Coincidentally (or not), reports have emerged in recent days that teams like the Jets won’t give Kirk Cousins a blank check — and that teams like the Cardinals aren’t even interested in joining what could become a runaway bid process for the first healthy franchise quarterback under the age of 30 to hit the open market.