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Old 11-15-2008, 01:38 AM   #1
Solecismic
Solecismic Software
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Brighton, MI
Free Agency in a Multi-Player Environment

Apologies for going so long without adding to this forum. I was under the impression OS would ask for new entries periodically. My fault for not following up after not hearing anything for a long time.

Many features within Front Office Football have a very different feel when you're playing the game with others.

When you're playing alone, the AI controlling the other 31 teams can react instantly to every stage. When you're playing in a league, with other human beings controlling opposing teams, the pace is a lot slower and other players may act very differently from what you're used to with an AI opponent.

One area where this is most apparent, and makes what ostensibly is a feature that should run smoothly in both paradigms, is free agency.

As those of you who play the single-player game a lot understand, the AI creates offers for free agents in a similar manner to the contract requested by the player's agent. Some teams will offer more, some less, but there are few surprises. If you really want a player, you're probably going to get him.

In leagues, offers can take unusual forms, there are attempts to figure out how bonus money is valued. Some leagues even have house rules limiting the use of bonus money, something I never anticipated.

The reason is that because of the pace, and because you're competing against people, the battle to obtain the services of a specific player takes on a more personal role.

This is one of those areas of the game where I think I can learn a lot from seeing how people view free agency in multi-player leagues, and what they perceive as a good gaming experience versus a frustrating one.

If I can capture the good in that experience and somehow bring it into the single-player version of the game, I think that could add significantly to the depth of Front Office Football. Maybe to a point where the term "house rules" can be retired in much the same way Ryan Leaf left the game.

What do you think would better capture the excitement of free agency without the frustration?

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Old 12-03-2008, 08:46 AM   #2
Ben E Lou
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Ben Lewis
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"Ben E Lou"


This has been the subject of much discussion in my MP leagues, and I have several thoughts. First off, here are some things that I like:
  • I like that bonus and first-year salary are by far the most important factors in getting players to sign, and that therefore backloading just doesn't work any longer in the MP environment. Players want guaranteed money. Makes sense.
  • I like that money is more important than the other aspects. If I'm going to pay a guy three times what my opponent is offering, he should sign with me, trumping playing time, loyalty, desire to win, and all other matters.
  • I like that signings do not appear to be random, but make sense from a financial perspective.
So, as a whole, I like the financial model with regard to signings. There are some things that could use tweaking in the model (primarily the way the mid-to-late career guys evaluate short-term vs. long-term offers,) but I firmly believe that they're secondary to the primary issue at hand. I see the primary issue as being not so much why they sign, as the amount of money that's available to be thrown around to get them to sign. We don't see factors like "loyalty" and "wants winner" coming into play in multiplayer because there seems to always be someone out there with the cap room and game savvy to offer a *lot* more money than the next guy. In the FOFL's recent free agency period, coming off of a 13-3 season, I had all of my key pieces returning, and over $60M in cap room (roughly 45% of the league's cap) available to me. I have two very good starting wide receivers, but I threw $17.5M for one season (over 10% of the cap) at a guy to be my third wide receiver, simply because I could afford to do it. And this isn't an isolated incident at all. Here's the WOOF's cap situation at the beginning of FA1 yesterday, with a $135.9M cap:


So, roughly half of the league has more than 25% of the cap to play with. And this is in a league that uses house rules specifically designed to reduce the amount of available cap room. There would be a good bit more available money if those rules didn't exist.

I'd love to see things like loyalty, desire to play for a winner, and expected role (starter/main backup/etc.) be factored into free agency offers, but those should always take a back seat when a team offers a lot more money than anyone else. And in a MP environment with that much money to be thrown around, it's going to get thrown around. There's a wide gap in how humans handle all the money. Some owners look at the player demands and dutifully offer a little more than they're asking. ('He's not worth more than that.") Others put together spreadsheets to figure out exactly how much cap room they can afford to spend, and completely ignore the asking prices. ("He's worth x% of my available cap space. Unused cap space does me no good whatsoever.") The latter group will always win out over the former.

I do have some suggestions that I believe would help alleviate the financial issues at hand in MP FA. Most have to do with shrinking the available cap space.

1. Increase asking prices across the board for renegotiations. It's just too easy to renegotiate your way to lots of cap space.
2. Young players who have never been full-time starters need to "test free agency." Either they should flat-out refuse to renegotiate, or (better, in my opinion,) only sign a contract if it's equal to or better than, say, the average of the top 15 contracts in the league at his position. In other words, if you want your good young WR3 to stick around for another season as WR3, you should have to pay him starter money.
3. Eliminate the mechanism of renegotiation asking prices being tied to how many games a guy started. It's just too easy to play a good young ratings-creeper at nickel CB or WR3 or RB2 for a few years, then sign him to a cheap long-term deal. I'd consider having the reneg requests tied to true ratings instead. (This might also help those who don't understand the creeping mechanism well to identify, "hey, I'll bet this guy is good. Look how much he's asking to stick around!" There's a gap there that could stand to be closed a bit.)
4. Increase the trivial bonus amount required to get a guy to sign a multi-year deal. Right now, savvy players are routinely signing backup/mentor types to three-year deals for minimum salary and $10K per year in bonus money.
5. Once the available cap room is reduced sufficiently, include "promised playing time" as a factor in some way. I can see two ways to handle this. The first would be to include a mechanism by which the offering team has to promise "starter, well-used backup, backup, role player" or something like that. And if the promise isn't kept, it would impact future free agents' willingness to sign, and the morale of the guy who did sign. Maybe have him become a red flag player until you do for him what you promised, cut him, or trade him. The other method would require the gamer to do less: have the player look over the offering team's roster to determine what his likely role is going to be. ("Gee, Ben has 75/75 Doug Johnstone and 60/60 Justin Horn at WR. I'm a 53/53 guy in my 5th year. I'm not gonna start for Charleston. I'd rather take a shorter contract for a bit less money per year to play for Chespeake where I'd be the clear WR2 so I can showcase my talents, play every snap, and get a fat deal when that one runs out.") In either case, the gamer would need more feedback as to what is going on. (EMAIL FROM BILLY ROYE: "Sorry. I know you offered a little more money, but I will get to play full-time in Chesapeake, and I will still be in my prime when their deal runs out and should command even bigger dollars then.")
Dave Lint
Writing Staff
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Free Agency:

What I would like to see different?

- Currently, it’s a guessing game. I’d love to see something that gave an idea as to what the player is interested in. It could easily tie into their personality ratings… does a player want more playing time (i.e. Matt Cassell, Scott Mitchell) or is he looking for a long term deal? I know that most will sign with whatever amounts to the most money poured into a signing bonus for the least amount of years… but I’d like to see some sort of personality scale tied into FA as to give the smaller teams a chance at a decent to good player.

What I like.

- I like that it is a clear cut, visual, example of what other teams are offering the player. In OOTP, you never know who you are negotiating against, and you don’t know how high/low you have to go with the offer. I think when you can see other teams offers, it really gives you, as an owner, a strategic advantage/disadvantage for every player. Do I spend more on Joe Blow because he’d be easier to sign, but not as good… or do I throw a huge offer at John Doe just to make sure my bitter rival doesn’t scoop him up? It’s another part of the game to compete against your opponents, and I really enjoy that aspect of it.
Bryan Estrella
Writing Staff
"Bryan_Estrella"

Sorry if this is long, but as a long-time FOF player I feel obliged if not honored to offer some thoughts on this and I’m glad that Jim is making an effort to seek opinions on improving the FA process. I apologize if you’re seeking more of a multi-player’s perspective but this is coming from an exclusively single-player opinion on things.

Anyway, to start I must acknowledge some of Linty’s great thoughts. In particular I am in agreement with his idea of further utilizing the various unique player personalities (leadership, intelligence, loyalty, play to win, personality) already present. It is also a smart one because all of those elements can have a potential impact on many different factors when signing a player including their preferred salary (amount/length), their championship aspirations/current stage in their career, (Are they a veteran willing to take cheaper salary to win a SB now? Or someone simply looking for the biggest contract) their preferred coach/team philosophytheir preferred/expected role on team (will they be content to get paid a ton if they are relegated to a back-up spot?) and team reputation (Dysfunctional franchises will never be considered by some no matter how much they offer, while others could be attracted to that dysfunction). I know that FOF already tracks some of these intangibles but it doesn’t hurt to expand on this front.

The good thing is that these ideas aren’t all pie in the sky wishes as I can draw on some previous games that have already included some elements mentioned above to use as examples to consider.

For instance, I know that in the NFL 2K franchise mode some free agents flat-out refused to negotiate with losing teams. For example, in a past game I took over a hapless Cardinals team, entered free-agency looking for a savior at QB, found that Peyton Manning was available (that part isn’t realistic I know) and was rebuffed with extreme prejudice. On another note, NFL Head Coach did a passable if inelegant job of displaying the importance of team schemes and the tangible effect that had on a player’s ratings as well as their overall happiness on a team. Some other games such as Football Manager, OOTP (and to a lesser extent, NBA 2K) do an admirable job of showcasing how the concept of defined player traits/roles can be an important consideration when adding players to a roster. For instance in FM, if you sign too many players at a certain position, you’ll sometimes have players complaining about their place in the squad or demanding equal pay to the new signings.

Regarding the actual free agent process, I agree with Linty in that the set-up of showing the player what offers are being made is the best way to reduce player frustrations, as a guessing game is never really fun. But the system does need a good shake-up, as the overall goal in the single-player game should be to shoot for the feel of a living world/environment ala multi-player. It shouldn’t feel as though the whole football universe rests upon your shoulders and other consequences are only a result of your actions.

One option to remedy this constraining feeling would be to simply improve upon the FA methodology framework used in past FOF games and was present in NFL Head Coach. The way things worked out, most big-name players still signed almost immediately out of the gate, however, not every player did things that way, as many of them preferred to wait things out until the middle and latter stages of FA. That variation in how/when players made themselves available spiced things up considerably and stretched out the entire process. Most importantly, it also really made you plan out your overall FA strategy beforehand. In past games you could be done with your big-name signings right away and just skip through the rest of the weeks but now you had to figure out who you wanted to target beforehand, and do you splurge now or conserve your money for later?

This could also be a great way to further tie the role of agents into free agency as they could be a concrete way of implementing the role of player personalities mentioned earlier. The agents could also provide a vital function of offering you simple written summarizations on what a player is thinking in regards to their various wishes/demands/intentions on signing with you. By doing this you can take all the numbers, really boil things down to a transparent level for the user, and give the player a concrete framework from which to work with. Just look at the new assistant manager match feedback option in FM 09 for an example of this at work. Anyway, this would be an improvement towards realism as agents (for the majority of players) do act as representation/mediators in the FA signing process and this is something that has been missing in many other games in the past. And because agents have already been included in past FOF games you have an opportunity here for a more immediate development on that front.

Lastly, I’d also add that one vitally important place where I feel FOF can excel and offer a truly fun experience is in the area of computer GM AI. I truly feel that this is really the best and only way to remove that “house-rule” effect because no matter what else you do, if you can offer a league of unpredictable, adaptable & intelligent GM AI to compete with you’d go a long way towards offering that frustration-free experience you seek.

Wow, I’ve written way too much and I know, I know, it is easier said than done regarding many of my suggestions, but I’d still like to read what y'all think of this, it could/should be an interesting discussion.

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Last edited by Ben E Lou : 12-03-2008 at 08:50 AM.
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Old 12-03-2008, 09:26 AM   #3
cuervo72
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben E Lou
We don't see factors like "loyalty" and "wants winner" coming into play in multiplayer because there seems to always be someone out there with the cap room and game savvy to offer a *lot* more money than the next guy. In the FOFL's recent free agency period, coming off of a 13-3 season, I had all of my key pieces returning, and over $60M in cap room (roughly 45% of the league's cap) available to me. I have two very good starting wide receivers, but I threw $17.5M for one season (over 10% of the cap) at a guy to be my third wide receiver, simply because I could afford to do it. And this isn't an isolated incident at all.

Yeah...not to mention the WR signing the year before:

theFOFL.com : Player >> Doug Johnstone

2021 Free Agency (I) Charleston WR Signed as an unrestricted free agent from Ayr 44,690,000/1

Or his subsequent flat (yes, FLAT, not backloaded ) renegotiation.

2022 Free Agency (I) Charleston WR Renegotiated contract 34,000,000/4

Yes, perhaps there's some risk there. But then again, that cap cost might look really good in the last two years too.

Ben has some good points though. The problems I think are that not enough players get to FA, and players are renegotiated in ways that make for a little too much cap room (in FOFL we are floating a no-haggle rule where you just accept a reneg at what a player is asking, or don't reneg - which includes no tack-on minsal years for the young/role players). Of course, I usually do that anyway which is why I never have cap room (yes, I'm slow like that). Even so, I am able to hang on to most players I want to.

Now, each year shouldn't be a FA free-for-all either - there is something to be said for continuity and MP owners tend to become attached to players. There's a balance to be struck. I've just not given much thought on how to achieve it.
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Old 12-03-2008, 11:23 AM   #4
gstelmack
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As others are saying, most of Free Agency is fine, with maybe some tweaks for playing time promises and the like. But renegotiations are where the issues lie, as it allows GMs to "correct" those big giant 1-year contracts into something more managable and clear lots of cap room for future big giant 1-year deals. What I see as problems with renegotiations are:

- Players don't value their CURRENT contract enough when renegotiating. They look at the new offer in isolation vs their skills, playing time, and the other misc bits (play for winner, loyalty, etc). This makes it too easy to tag a guy and lowball him, when he'd be better off sticking with the franchise offer, or even the left-over bonus and salary he already had.

- Players don't appear to look at what others on their team are making when valuing an offer. When Ben makes a ridiculous offer for a WR because he has cap room, why don't the other WRs on the team immediately hold out for more money, or at the least get disgruntled?

I think you could make a self-correcting system if players were not just valuing their contract in isolation vs the cap, but rather also comparing to franchise salaries, top salaries, etc, with extra weightings vs what players on the same team are making, especially during renegotiations.
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Old 12-03-2008, 11:25 AM   #5
Ben E Lou
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Originally Posted by cuervo72 View Post
The problems I think are that not enough players get to FA, and players are renegotiated in ways that make for a little too much cap room (in FOFL we are floating a no-haggle rule where you just accept a reneg at what a player is asking, or don't reneg - which includes no tack-on minsal years for the young/role players). Of course, I usually do that anyway which is why I never have cap room (yes, I'm slow like that). Even so, I am able to hang on to most players I want to.
I still say that's picking gnat-poop outta pepper. If Jim's goal is to get rid of house rules in both SP and MP, just forcing people to accept the existing demands or cap out would get take up only a marginal amount of cap room.

Quote:
Now, each year shouldn't be a FA free-for-all either - there is something to be said for continuity and MP owners tend to become attached to players. There's a balance to be struck. I've just not given much thought on how to achieve it.
Great point. One thing that I just forgot to say in my response is that to get this right for MP, you almost have to have a 32-person very fast test league. (Quick-sim through drafting and seasons, and do free agency stage-by-stage for about 8 seasons, including trading.) If you want to wait until after the release to do it and just plan on a patch based on testing results, that's fine. But there's really no way to balance this in MP without seeing the results of at at least 8-10 seasons of human interaction (long enough for the initial contracts to turn over completely.)


One another note with regard to this, it occurred to me that there's a place here where the "realism" versus "fun" issue comes into play: depth. All FOF MP leagues that I know of use injury settings that are much lower than real life. (I believe Jim even explicitly recommends this in the documentation.) They do this because people have found it less fun having to deal with injuries, while admitting that it's less realistic. But as a result, there's not nearly as much strategic reason to have quality depth in FOF MP as in real life. My FOFL team is a great example of that. Injuries there are at 100, so unless a guy is a confirmed creeper or an obvious young starter-to-be, I just don't bother with paying most of my FOFL backups anything more than minimum salary for their experience level. And quite often, I'm just paying the *rookie* minimum. My team made the FOFL Bowl (and got creamed by Subby's boys, but still, we made the flippin' championship game) with around 15-20 undrafted minisal rookies on it. I don't know if it's feasible, but it might be worth exploring having a sliding scale where starters' salary demands increase as the injury setting decreases.
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Old 12-03-2008, 11:30 AM   #6
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I like that money is more important than the other aspects. If I'm going to pay a guy three times what my opponent is offering, he should sign with me, trumping playing time, loyalty, desire to win, and all other matters.

I have to disagree with you here. Why do so many players in the NFL sign for cheap with New England rather then take the big paychecks from say, Oakland? Yea, desire to win is a big factor for players and shouldn't be discounted. Loyalty is also a big factor. Some players like the area, have homes and family's who beg them not to move again, they like the coaching staff, their teammates etc etc...So rather then take a gigantic paycheck to move again, they sign for cheaper with their current team.

I think the game should also take at least a portion of this into account. Simply ignoring all other factors and signing with the team who offers the most money is, IMO not that realistic.
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Old 12-03-2008, 11:37 AM   #7
QuikSand
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Originally Posted by Razzlam View Post
I have to disagree with you here. Why do so many players in the NFL sign for cheap with New England rather then take the big paychecks from say, Oakland?

Even if that were a fair depiction of how the real world of football worked (and I don't think it is) would that be a good thing for a computer football game like FOF?

In the MP leagues I play in, among the bigger problems is that there's a pretty meaningful and continual drift of talent toward some of the better teams. I'd hate top think that every team that posts 12 wins or a title would now reap *extra* benefits in those leagues and start signing free agents more easily than the teams who really need the help.

Realism is not always the best way to go to make a game interesting and playable. It often is, but not always.

(And I tend to believe that the player overlooking the fat contract from a losing team is an overstated example, not really the case for all that many players in the NFL)
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Old 12-03-2008, 11:52 AM   #8
Fritz
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In general, I am of the opinion that FA probably works well, but money is too available - more so as a league matures.

Some thoughts:

1. Multi-Year bonus minimum should increase as the salary cap increases.
2. Players mood should be more affected by their salary compared to counterparts in similar roles.
3. Players should have an attribute that defines how they see themsleves (Top Player, Top 5 player, Top 10 Player, Starter, Backup, Happy to Be Here) or whatever. Play and pay outside that role should affect their mood.
4. Mood should affect their play and potentialy team play.
5. I have long avdocated having the player coach relationship matter - much like player to player/leader. It should affect mood as well for players already on a team.

In general, find a way to have players consume more money. The growth of salary demands should not be tied to the cap increase, but to other contracts. The moment Ben offered a league high contract to the WR, the other players on his team and also in every team should be getting ansy for more money. Perhaps a hidden "Play for Contract" rating could create some variation.

Give us more reasons to cut or trade a guy. That will eat cap space.

Also, I am of the opinion that balloon money should count more. In the NFL, this serves 2 functions: 1.) Pride and posture - who has the largest total contract. 2.) This is forces renegotitation or cutting. A five year deal with two sill years is really a 3 year deal with a forcing action. Everyone expects another deal.
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Old 12-03-2008, 11:55 AM   #9
Fritz
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hmmm reading through ....

I think I would like to see some variables that a MP could adjust that would affect how player contracts are accepted. a leauge could set up they way they like and change it later.
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Old 12-03-2008, 01:21 PM   #10
albionmoonlight
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I agree with a lot of what has been said here. So, in order to provide balance, let me try to pick some of it apart--particularly Ben's points.

Basically, Ben's suggestions all hover around the idea that the game should make it harder for gamers who know how to game things to have a financial advantage over gamers who don't. I generally agree with that. I particularly agree with that when it comes to making the AI players smarter/more like real life (having teammates get upset if you sign a guy for $40,000,000 at their position; having players understand their value better).

But, I could see a game going too far in that direction and taking a lot of the fun and decision making out of it. If, however it is achieved, every starting caliber QB demands X% of the cap. And every decent WR demands Y% of the cap . . . etc., then I think that a lot of the point of free agency is lost. It just becomes a matter of filling up cap space.

Basically, FA that allows for the occasional bargain player and the occassional overpaid player will make it easier on the gamers who understand how to find those deals and harder on the gamers who don't. But FA that does not do that at all does not strike me as very fun.

I think that the best approach may be to see the exploits that people use and ask yourself "why does that not happen in real life?" Then try to code that answer into the game. For example, the reason that players don't renegotiate for under market contracts in real life is because they understand their value and understand how much cap is out there. FOF player/agent AI is just not there yet.

Finally, while I would LOVE it is things like "play for winner" meant more, I agree that, in real life, it does not mean much. For every guy who signs for minsal with a Super Bowl contender, you have 20 guys who just follow the dollars/starting spots. Also, I think that it would be very hard to the AI to really know which teams do have the best chance of winning. If people could game "play for winner" by slotting depth charts or game "prefered playing style" by changing gameplans, then you have just created a bigger problem than the one you tried to solve.
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Old 12-03-2008, 02:49 PM   #11
jdavidbakr
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I think Ben hit the nail on the head when he talked about the existing market having an effect on the paychecks. In RL, the cost of each position seems to ebb and flow a bit based on what is happening around the league. A WR signs to a huge contract, and suddenly all the other big WR's are wanting to do the same. Later a RB signs a huge contract, and suddenly RB's all want the highest salary in the league. I think if you code some of that logic into the system, then no matter what the salary cap is, the law of supply and demand will force each team to use most of their cap, and the talent level in the league will determine what positions have the higher salaries; just more organic in nature. And I also think that you should have a balance between how good a player really is and what his stats say - and have some players that think they're better than they are, so they try to get more money, other players who are team players and will take less money to field a winning team, others who are really good but haven't played much so they don't realize how good they are, and all these factors would be tied to their personality traits, making the whole process more organic. Lastly, give the organic feedback - if a player thinks he's all that but his stats say otherwise, have his agent say so.
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Old 12-04-2008, 04:28 AM   #12
QuikSand
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Another related issue is a fairly subtle one -- to a player, what is a "good" contract versus a "bad" contract?

Right now, FOF seems to essentially value every contract pretty much the same way -- dollars per year, bonus counts by far the most, then early salary, and then late salary. Oversimplified, but that's the essence. In many cases, this probably works out just great. But, especially when the game leads to the sort of absurd cap flexibility like noted above, there are times when that comparison fails us. And to me, most of them hover around the notion of what the player's expectations really should be.

Easy example - Solid player asking for a reasonable multi year deal at around $10m per season. He gets two offers, one for six years at $14m per season, with half of it bonus, and the second at $15m for one year, half bonus. Should the slight edge there in bonus and total per year make the second offer an obvious winner? I think most of us would think that since he's looking at an offer that is already substantially higher than his own expectations, the better offer is really the one that exceeds his "expected" reward path by more, and that would be the longer term offer.

Second example - same $10m player. Here, nobody makes a really strong offer, and he instead find himself looking at two offers: a multi year deal at $4m per season half bonus, or a one year deal at $3m half bonus. What now? The math of FOF fails us again here - if the player is at the point of "settling" for what seems like an under-market contract, he should prefer the short term deal, not the one that comes out best in value per year. Locking in long term at the lower compensation is like making a midnight run to 7-Eleven to buy batteries, and when you see they are on "sale" marked down from $8 to only $6 for a two-pack you buy the store out.

Obviously, this puts a lot of weight onto the expectations of the player (and having them valued reasonably) but I'd like to think that a more complex system of evaluating the money in contracts could add some more acceptance of how the game works, especially in MP mode. Players preferring different contract lengths based on where the offer lies relative to their expectations, and also based on their own experience relative to their peak, could add something meaningful to the game, I think.
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Old 12-04-2008, 09:38 AM   #13
Ben E Lou
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Here's one FA scenario that probably happens fairly regularly in real life, but is not handled realistically in FOF.

I have roughly $6M in available cap room in the WOOF right now. There is one guy I'd like to sign. If I don't get him, I will likely sign no one (except maybe a mentor after the draft). I am willing to pay him *more* than $6M this year. In real life, I would handle this by...

1. Reaching an agreement with New Player that costs me $9.5M in cap space this year.
2. Immediately releasing John Jones, clearing $2M in cap space this year.
3. Immediately releasing James Johnson, clearing another $1.75M in cap space this year.
4. Signing New Player.

In FOF, I have to release Jones and Johnson *before* I know if I've reached an agreement with New Player. And if I don't sign New Player, Jones and Johnson are still gone. Their releases in real life are 100% contigent on signing New Player. It would be fun if there were a mechanism by which you would have one or two stages to clear cap room *after* a new signing.

I've been offered a lowball for my DE by a savvy owner who realizes I could use some cap room, too. Same scenario: I have no interest in trading him unless I sign the new guy, but I may not be able to offer enough to get the new guy to sign unless I make the trade first. Catch-22 ftl.
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Old 12-04-2008, 09:44 AM   #14
gstelmack
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Another aspect of this is the lack of feedback in FOF. You make an offer and can see the total value of all other offers, but you have no idea what the player is thinking (aside from knowing he wants the best dollars-per-year with some nudge for bonus vs salary). What if FOF incorporated at least elements of the OOTP system? Instead of being shown all the outstanding offers and making your decisions, you get to see what offer the guy wants (like now) and then your feedback is more like:

"Your offer is good, but there are some others I like a bit better."

"Denver has offered more money, but I like your recent record. I think I'll sign with you."

"Are you kidding? You're not even close to what Miami, Buffalo, and New York are offering. I'll talk with them. Goodbye."

"It was a nice offer, and maybe we can do business in the future. But Miami, Buffalo, and New York are more competitive, so I'm going to focus on them. Thank-you for the interest."

"Your offer is good, but I'd really like a long-term deal. Can we add some years?"

"Right now I like your offer the best. Indy and Jacksonville are close though, and I'm going to give them another chance. Unless you want to give me a bit more bonus?"

"Your offer is the best out there, and negotiations have been good. I like the bonus and years. I'll sign with you."

"That blew me away. Wow, thanks! I'm not even listening to anyone else. Where do I sign."

Elements like that make it a bit more of a guessing game to compete with others, shows what the player actually thinks of your offer, and allows the player to pick some frontrunners early and get others off the gravy train. It still forces you to make a strong initial offer.

I'd also love to see guys come knocking on your door, especially if you have bid on them earlier and others dropped out. A good example of this is right now players might really like an offer and decide to accept it, but other signings mean the top team or two no longer have cap room. Why not go back to the top couple and say "anyone want to step up now that those two are out?"

I'd also like to see a true restricted free agency done, with tender offers that allow other teams to compete for the RFAs if they are willing to pay the draft picks if they sign. Suddenly those year 3 and year 4 guys aren't necessarily as cheap as they are now, if they are any good.
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Old 12-04-2008, 10:33 AM   #15
Fritz
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I think FA could be more exciting if some of the other things that come with tagging were in play.

The franchise tag does not keep a player from leaving, it just makes it more costly.

Franchise players can not negotiate salary after a certain point in FA until some other point in FA. I think the NFL rule actually allows for negotiation, if the team is will to give up the tag for the durtation of the contract, but that never comes into play.

The transition tag would be nice and would make some talented players more accessible.

I would be on board with fewer FA rounds.
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Old 12-04-2008, 02:41 PM   #16
Dutch
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Working with the brainstorming going on here, and in the interest of making Free Agency "more fun" without making it unrealistic, something I think could add to the free agency period would be something similiar to TCY's "phone calls". But in FOF, these phonecalls would be used to give your team priority to players in Free Agency and give you the right to be part of a two-way bidding war. The "field" would then be allowed to counter any offer made by the "phone-call" bidder to the best offer would start a bidding contest.

How it could work?

At the beginning of FA, everyteam is given one "phone-call" to spend on an UFA. (to make it more fun, you could add bonus calls for playoff teams or teams that had a superior financial year.)

Players tagged with a phone call would only listen to your offer during the first round. When that round is complete, your offer is shown publicly and everybody is allowed to "outbid" that offer. (Just submit an offer and let the AI sort out the best offers.) If the offer is outbid, the bidding war is made public. The "phone-call" team can then counter in the next round, and the other winning bidder can counter that the following round, until the out-bidding ends and the player is signed.

If two or more teams use a "phone-call" on the same player, the players attributes such as "play for winner", "loyalty", and hometown distance (possibly) would break the conflict.
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Old 12-07-2008, 11:24 AM   #17
Anthony
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i'd like to see more holding out. to echo what jbaker said - if WR Joe Smith signs a new deal that is tops in the league for his position then my WR Bob Jones should want to hold out until i redo his deal since he made the Pro Bowl. have the loyalty rating come into play here - if Bob Jones had high loyalty that'd make it less likely he'd want to redo his deal just cuz someone else signed a better deal.

also, promising playing time should be a new feature. make it so that if i sign a guy to a deal and promise him he'll be a top backup and all of a sudden he winds up starting all my games he's gonna want a new deal. or if i sign a guy and offer him the chance to be my starter and he winds up riding the bench he's gonna hold out or be disruptive. guys get "disgruntled" due to playing time currently but i have yet to see how that translates into wins or losses. if i sign a great guy to a 5 year deal and he becomes my backup in year one and he doesn't like that the worst thing that happens is he's stuck on my team for 4 more years and i have a disgruntled player on my hands but doesn't mess me up in any blatant way.
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Old 12-11-2008, 03:02 PM   #18
Bonegavel
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Originally Posted by Ben E Lou View Post
Here's one FA scenario that probably happens fairly regularly in real life, but is not handled realistically in FOF.

I have roughly $6M in available cap room in the WOOF right now. There is one guy I'd like to sign. If I don't get him, I will likely sign no one (except maybe a mentor after the draft). I am willing to pay him *more* than $6M this year. In real life, I would handle this by...

1. Reaching an agreement with New Player that costs me $9.5M in cap space this year.
2. Immediately releasing John Jones, clearing $2M in cap space this year.
3. Immediately releasing James Johnson, clearing another $1.75M in cap space this year.
4. Signing New Player.

In FOF, I have to release Jones and Johnson *before* I know if I've reached an agreement with New Player. And if I don't sign New Player, Jones and Johnson are still gone. Their releases in real life are 100% contigent on signing New Player. It would be fun if there were a mechanism by which you would have one or two stages to clear cap room *after* a new signing.

I've been offered a lowball for my DE by a savvy owner who realizes I could use some cap room, too. Same scenario: I have no interest in trading him unless I sign the new guy, but I may not be able to offer enough to get the new guy to sign unless I make the trade first. Catch-22 ftl.

Seems that you should be able to offer the figure and if it is over your CAP it simply opens a dialog box where you have to add players to drop that will cover the extra cost. Then, if the deal goes through the players on your "drop for cap list" go bye-bye. Obviously, if the other player doesn't sign the folks on the drop list are none-the-wiser and stay put.
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Old 12-26-2008, 07:08 PM   #19
MartinD
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In the MP leagues I play in, among the bigger problems is that there's a pretty meaningful and continual drift of talent toward some of the better teams. I'd hate top think that every team that posts 12 wins or a title would now reap *extra* benefits in those leagues and start signing free agents more easily than the teams who really need the help.

A possible way to balance this 'drift' of talent towards the top teams is to put in things that increase the cap hit for players already signed by the best teams. For example, performance-related bonuses (or salary increases) as part of contracts - for things like if the team wins the Super Bowl, a player makes an All-Pro team, participates in a specified number/percentage of plays or hits a statistical milestone (e.g. 4,000 yards passing, 1,500 yards rushing, 10 sacks, 5 interceptions, etc). The problem that I see with this, however, is that adding too many potential options of this nature could potentially make contracts very complicated very quickly, so there would need to be a compromise between realism and usability with this.

Another option could be to make it more likely for players on successful teams to hold out for a better contract, particularly if that player has been a big part of the team's recent success. (One possible way of doing this may be to have a hidden variable for every player (free agent or under contract to a team) that holds the player's current opinion on the salary that they should be making - this would be affected by a number of factors (like the player's recent performance, the team's recent performance, contracts/salary for similar/equivalent players round the league, the player's 'want winner' and 'loyalty' rating, and so on). This would be compared to the player's current salary/contract, with the player holding out (or expressing some other form of dissatisfaction?) if their current deal doesn't come close enough to their expectations.)


On a related point, it would be good to see the 'want winner' and 'loyalty' rating given more importance in the free agent/contract/salary cap process, e.g. players with high 'want winner' will be very unwilling to sign for a bottom-feeder team, and may be more likely to sign with a successful team (possibly on a reduced contract), players with high 'loyalty' are more likely to stay with their current team, or are more likely to agree to restructure their contract when their team is in cap trouble. This should ideally be coupled with improved feedback between player and team in contract negotiations, along the lines of the suggestions from gstelmack (e.g. 'While Team X are offering more money, I'm going to sign for your team because I see you as a playoff team, while Team X haven't had a winning season in 5 years.') At the moment, I suspect that many players simply ignore these ratings because they have very little apparent impact on what happens in the game.

Martin
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Old 01-06-2009, 12:58 PM   #20
albionmoonlight
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Originally Posted by MartinD View Post
On a related point, it would be good to see the 'want winner' and 'loyalty' rating given more importance in the free agent/contract/salary cap process, e.g. players with high 'want winner' will be very unwilling to sign for a bottom-feeder team, and may be more likely to sign with a successful team (possibly on a reduced contract), players with high 'loyalty' are more likely to stay with their current team, or are more likely to agree to restructure their contract when their team is in cap trouble. This should ideally be coupled with improved feedback between player and team in contract negotiations, along the lines of the suggestions from gstelmack (e.g. 'While Team X are offering more money, I'm going to sign for your team because I see you as a playoff team, while Team X haven't had a winning season in 5 years.') At the moment, I suspect that many players simply ignore these ratings because they have very little apparent impact on what happens in the game.

Martin

Not everything in the game needs to model real life, of course, but I have the sense that, in real life, the majority of players just follow the most money.

We tend to notice the aging vet who signs with the Patriots in order to win a ring, or the guy on a bottom feeding team who sulks until he is traded. But I think that we notice those because they are rare. We tend to forget about the 99% of free agents that season who quietly signed where the $$ was the best.

Again, as a gamer, I think that your idea sounds like a lot of fun. But I also think that it would sacrifice some element of realism.
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Old 01-06-2009, 01:06 PM   #21
Ben E Lou
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I agree albion, and would add that the big, big difference that we see in the current FOF MP environment from real life is the delta between offers. In real life, free agency has some of the draft element to it, in the sense that guys are "slotted" to a degree. They pretty much know that they're going to get between x and y amount. So when you hear a guy say "I will not play for Oakland no matter what," it really means, "I'm going to get a $1.5M-$2M bonus from someone, and I don't want that someone to be Oakland. I will not play for Oakland no matter what, but if Al Davis decides he wants to give me a $10M bonus, SURE!!!"

In real life, guys are deciding between a relatively narrow monetary delta. In FOF MP, we'd throw a $10M bonus at a marginal player without thinking twice about it. It's hard to even put the two side by side...
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