GREENWICH CT - JULY 08: LeBron James speaks at the LeBron James announcement of his future NBA plans at the Boys & Girls Club of America on July 8 2010 in Greenwich Connecticut. James announced during a live broadcast on ESPN that he will play for the Miami Heat next season. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Estabrook Group)
Going into the 2010-2011 NBA season, then-free agent LeBron James decided he was going to test the open market and see who wanted his services. He recruited friends and fellow superstars, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh to join him in creating a super team behind the scenes. This then led to the infamous "Decision" telecast where James broke hearts everywhere in Ohio. Later, we all learned that James, Wade and Bosh were all going to the Miami Heat.
Now that Peyton Manning has been released from the Colts, there have been rumblings that Reggie Wayne and/or Pierre Garcon would be part of a "package deal" for the team that signs Manning. Obviously, Manning and both of these receivers have had enormous amounts of success in their time together in the NFL and this could turn into a "super team" kind of scenario.
Now, according to profootballtalk.com's Evan Silva, free agent-to-be Cortland Finnegan is "recruiting" Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson to join him at the same destination. Ironically, the destination that Finnegan has in mind is in the state of Florida with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. As Silva notes, this scenario could play out because of the massive salary cap room that the Buccaneers will be taking into the offseason. The needs for the team are there as well, as they have gaping holes at both positions.
This could not only pose a major problem for the Bengals, but the NFL as a whole. For the Bengals, they are most likely in the market for both a wide receiver and a cornerback. It's quite possible that the team is targeting Wayne, Finnegan, and/or Garcon and if the rumors between these players and possible "package deals" are true, they will not bite on those deals--especially for one that would include Manning. It would be a shame because it would take the team out of the running out of some of the better free agents at the positions that they need.
For the league, this could create a situation where a handful of "super teams" are created and the Super Bowl could be annually won by a small handful of teams. With Roger Goodell allegedly pointing free agent players to certain teams (remember when the Bengals were interested in Michael Vick?), a league that is supposedly built on parity could greatly diminish. Owners that don't traditionally spend a lot of money (Mike Brown) could lose out on putting together a competitive team and will only be able to rely on the draft. Offsetting some of the potential anarchy is the salary cap floor that will be in place by 2013, but still the potential for this situation to play out is there.
Free agents are allowed to choose their destination--it's the luxury they've earned for their performance and tenure in the league. Sometimes that gets forgotten with the "LeBron Decision". But, this is the first year that we've heard more than one (or just one, actually) case of players attempting to end up on the same team to potentially build a super team.
One of the things that makes the NFL great is that there seems to be a new group of playoff teams vying for the Super Bowl every year--the 2011 season was a case in point. With the players getting a decent deal with the recent CBA, they may be feeling their oats a little and feel like they have quite a bit of power here. Again, the players have earned the right to play where they want and where they are wanted, but with players "recruiting" other players, the NFL could be climbing a slippery slope.