NFL free agency is fool's gold. Always has been. Always will be.

Now more than ever. Forever and forever.

Amen.

I've been singing this chorus and preaching this sermon for roughly a decade now, and nothing has changed. Except, well, the free-agency classes grow shallower and shallower. The number of true impact players available plummets and plummets. The number of ill-advised contracts grows steeper and steeper. The chasm between the supply of truly significant players on the open market vs. the demand for such players grows deeper and deeper.

When it comes to team building, you can say your prayers and swallow your vitamins and eat your Wheaties and hold your nose and write those massive checks, but in the NFL, less than nothing is guaranteed (not even the contracts). And the plight of the would-be big spender is getting only more bleak.

Year after year, I feel as if I proclaim that this is, unequivocally, the weakest free-agent class ever, and year after year I am proven wrong. Because there is always another pot of would-bes, could-bes, never-weres and maybes who prove me wrong and show that they are actually less efficient and valuable than the free-agent class that proceeded them.

So why should this year be any different? Well, let me give you a heads-up: This year won't be any different.
In fact, with the salary cap now rising at a rapid rate and about to jump roughly $15 million, and with all teams now forced to spend at least 89 percent of the cap, and with this collective-bargaining agreement no longer sneaking up on anyone, and with the franchise and transition tags still in place, and with rookie-contract wages now so concrete and finite that players on their first deals are steals ... well, the rules (through incentives) encourage extending your own young players now more than ever.

The best players get new deals after their third or fourth years (as will be the case with guys like Odell Beckham Jr. this offseason), and the also-ran teams are left to pick through the leftovers of the weaker drafting teams.