Dwight Freeney suggests that the NFL owners have committed collusion this offseason.
Freeney eventually signed with the San Diego Chargers, but received no interest initially.
"It takes one team to start things going," said Freeney, "but what was strange was initially there was no one team."
Agents and players have been privately saying that the owners were colluding, which is why free agents largely didn't receive their typical level of interest.
"I basically think the owners got together and decided not to spend the cash on free agents," Freeney explained. "I definitely think that's part of it. I think the owners made a pact. There's only 32 of them and none of them broke ranks. I think they all decided not to spend money."
The NFLPA was so concerned about collusion that executive director DeMaurice Smith sent a memo to all player agents asking if agents found proof of collusion, they should notify the union. Smith wrote, "We have heard reports of a concern that teams are working in concert to ‘peg', ‘rig' or ‘set' market prices on player contracts. If you believe or have information that the teams have been colluding during this free agency period, you have a responsibility as an agent of the NFLPA to come forward and share that information with us.”
The NFL has denied collusion took place.
Said one prominent agent: "I've been in this business for several decades and there was never an offseason like this. Never."
"What you saw," said Freeney, "were guys getting small deals. I haven't seen anything like it. There was a lot of take-it-or-leave-it from teams.
"It was crazy. Even a guy like [Elvis] Dumervil didn't make as much money as he should have. He's in his prime."