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Old 02-07-2020, 03:54 PM   #201
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
Merchantmen release Ellis McAlister
The Cinderella story is over. Ellis McAlister, the 36-year old former sixth round draft pick, was today announced to be released by the Maassluis Merchantmen after 14 seasons of service. The decision comes after McAlister's statistically worst season, for the first time throwing more interceptions than touchdowns and seeing his quarterback rating plummet to below 75 for the first time.

The franchise quarterback played in 144 regular season games and 10 playoff games. His regular season tally ends at exactly 35,000 passing yards with 218 touchdowns and 152 interceptions. McAlister ranks third all-time amongst all Merchantmen quarterbacks in passing yards and sixth in touchdown passes.

The Merchantmen are stuck in a deep salary cap situation, projected to be $230 million over the cap if they don't make any roster moves, renegotiations and use their current 8 draft picks. Releasing McAlister opens up just $34 million of cap space, as this is just the beginning of an unavoidable domino effect of roster cuts, trades and heavily negotiated contract restructures.

Along with McAlister, nine other long time veteran players will be released come next Monday. The players and their various player agents have already been informed, but McAlister's departure stands out far above the others. The off-season will be busy in Maassluis, the 2088 roster will see many changes for the last three seasons' conference semifinalist.
__________________
* 2005 Golden Scribe winner for best FOF Dynasty about IHOF's Maassluis Merchantmen
* Former GM of GEFL's Houston Oilers and WOOF's Curacao Cocktail

Last edited by MIJB#19 : 02-07-2020 at 03:55 PM.
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Old 02-08-2020, 11:03 AM   #202
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Welcome to Cap Hell 2088
We've been here before and somehow crawled our way out of the deep hole we dug. This time around, it's a deeper hole than ever before. Let me take you through how deep it is.

The basics:
* the salary cap is $483.8M and the 51 most expensive players will count towards that cap (player 52, 53 and during the pre-season 54 and up don't count towards the cap)
* we have $13.87M of dead cap space, leaving $469.3M to work with
* we have 8 draft picks (which combine for $19.82M of cap costs), which means after using those picks, we have $449.48M left
* we have 44 players signed, which means all but the least expensive one will count towards the cap [FOF's in game calculations are misleading in this area and will actually add the draft costs on top of whatever number of players that are signed, even if that number is already 51]
* the 44 players signed are already counting $291.65M in bonus money, this means we have $157.83M available for the base salary for these 44 players
* the 44 players on roster are due $389.43M in base salary, this means we're $231.6M over budget and need to free up that much of cap space by roster cuts or by renegotiations

So there we have it, we're $231.6M over a $483.8M cap. Yes, we're spending roughly 1.5 times what we are allowed to.

* breath in, breath out *

Some considerations:
* if we trade all 8 draft picks, we clear that $19.80M of cap space, but would still need to sign 7+ undrafted rookies at $1.61M a piece to a full roster (remember, only the first seven count towards the cap, the last two will be the cheapest 2 players on roster), which actually saves only $6.91M
* we've talked with all 52 players on roster to find out their contract demands, which gives us a picture of 5 options for each player (excluding the 8 free agents): do nothing, give what he wants, offer what we want to pay (alteration of the request), cap out (available for only 12 players) or release the player.
* after applying the optimal cap number (without any releases) and removing all draft picks, we'll still be $88.44M short, which means we'll have to release a number of players and will save their base salary minus the rookie minimum in cap space. As it appears to me, we'll have to release 4 of our 5 most expensive players and will still come short. Those five are DT Heath Oliver, CB Kirk Hitchcock, WR Theo Bondy, QB Ellis McAlister and MLB Craig McCorkle. Cutting them all would give us a positive figure of $10.4M.
* all this taken into consideration, we'll have several underpaid players desiring a very large increase in their cap figure (RB Reggie Thong', WR Tucker Gaylor, S Bart Farrell and RT Howard Humphrey). Combined, they want $33.78M more. Money we don't have, which means there's a big risk of them going into holdout mode, in which case we'll be forced to trade or even cut most of them. Especially Tucker Gaylor and his 51 catches for 720 yards and 2 touchdowns looks very likely to be off roster come opening day 2088.

I thought I had made up my mind yesterday and had everything under control, but that was far from the truth. After a truckload of moves and potential renegotiations, we would be $970K under the cap, but with only 34 players signed and thus still needing to find room for 17 minimum salary rookies (which is $27.37M) and no cap room for any of our draft picks. Early reports of McAlister leaving Maassluis look like it's a done deal, no way around it. The "nine other long term veteran players" to be released would get us to that $970K situation, but still far away from what we need to do.

So, that pretty much sums up our cap situation.

Is there a door number two? Theoretically, we could use the picks, as such get up to 52 players signed and see what the league office will do about us being $230M over the cap. Quite simply, we wouldn't get away with it, as league rules are pretty clear: "Each team must be under the league salary cap when Regular Season Week 1 is [played]. Failure to do so will result in league mandated cuts and a possible loss of draft pick(s)."

So there you have it.

It's time to announce a big trade block to the rest of the league's general managers...
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* 2005 Golden Scribe winner for best FOF Dynasty about IHOF's Maassluis Merchantmen
* Former GM of GEFL's Houston Oilers and WOOF's Curacao Cocktail
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Old 02-09-2020, 05:57 AM   #203
tzach
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just checking in again to say that i really enjoy this thread, mijb.

the financial module of fof is not perfect, but it simulates pretty well these kind of situations with the salary cap. it's one of my favorite aspects of the sim.

regarding your last point about trying to go into the season over the cap with a legal roster, my understanding is that this has been attempted in the past in other leagues, and the language from ben's rule is exactly to prevent this possibility (which can occur is SP, since the AI will not put a team under the cap with automatic cuts if the roster is legal wrt min position numbers).

Last edited by tzach : 02-09-2020 at 05:57 AM.
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Old 02-09-2020, 11:59 AM   #204
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tzach View Post
regarding your last point about trying to go into the season over the cap with a legal roster, my understanding is that this has been attempted in the past in other leagues, and the language from ben's rule is exactly to prevent this possibility (which can occur is SP, since the AI will not put a team under the cap with automatic cuts if the roster is legal wrt min position numbers).
I'm aware of that, even pointed it out.

Thanks for being a loyal reader!
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Old 02-09-2020, 01:07 PM   #205
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Goodbye guys
Hold on, don't panic, I'm not going anywhere!

We will say goodbye to 11 players that have been with us for many seasons. One of them retired, ten others were today told we'll release them. Yes, Ellis McAlister is one of them.

Guard Harvey Hank retired during the off-season. Rarely have we used a first round pick on guards, but Hank has been an exception and with good reason. Since opening day in 2076, he's been a starter on our offensive line all the way through our playoff loss last season. In 12 seasons he played in 202 games (191 regular season, 11 playoffs), missing just 1 game in that time span.

Running back Leonard Belin played 6 seasons with us. A sixth round pick in 2082, he barely played that rookie season. Things drastically changed in the next season when he went into our rotation as the main ball carrier. Over the past five seasons, we flipflopped between him and Reggie Thongchanh. Belin ran for 1,247 yards or more in 3 of those seasons, coming 15 yards short of the 5,000-yard mark, with a 4.5 yards per carry average and 33 total touchdowns. His tally ends at 97 games played for us, unless we re-hire him later on...

Wide receiver Artie Blazewicz turned from a sixth round pick into our WR2. In his 2080 rookie campaign, he was exclusively a special teamer, but in his second season he was our premier kickoff return man, the alternate punt returner and most prominently notches his first (and so far only) 1,000-yard receiving season. Playing behind Theodore Bondy, he was rarely getting a lot of targets, but at 15.2 yards per catch he's clearly been a deep threat receiver for us. He scored 23 total touchdowns for us.

Linebacker Glenn Brewer was considered a complete defender. Our late 2077 first round pick was a day one starter, his role has been a full time starter until last season, when he moved down in the depth chart to the third linebacker role. He topped 100 tackles four times, but also accumulated 43.0 sacks, 10 interceptions and 84 defended passes. His number of games played for the Merchantmen will likely stop at 187.

Defensive end Ezekiel Wylie went from an undrafted rookie to special teamer, then a loyal member of our d-line rotation and a much appreciated mentor last season. It's been only 7 seasons, but that's plenty enough to rack up to 112 regular season games and 9 playoffs games of activity.

Tight end Jessie Taylor will leave the Merchantmen after just 3 full seasons. He was a free agent signing in the 2085 off-season. The plan was to make him a key run blocker, but due to our game plan decisions, it hasn't worked out well and he became even more of a third or fourth choice receiving target. He's made 111 catches for 1,064 yards and 5 touchdowns in 48 regular season games, while playing on all 7 playoffs games in those 3 seasons.

Fullback Tristan Cochrane joined us as a fifth round pick in 2081 and as such spent 7 seasons on roster. We had hoped to turn him into an elite blocker, which he has all the skills for, but reality is that our game plan hasn't been in his favor. 10 carries, 81 receptions, 13 key run blocks, that's his tally in 112 regular season games. We might have found a new role for him with a different game plan in the future, but we're going to promote Clay Brosseau to the role.

Tight end Miles Barker has been another supposedly run blocker, but in reality he's made a grand total of 1 key run block in 64 regular season games and 7 playoffs games. He was an undrafted rookie signing back in 2084, but we just haven't found a way to get him to play much in our game plan.

Defensive end Gino Kemp joined us as a fifth round pick in the 2080 draft. His rookie campaign was silent, but his second season we put him into a leading pass rush role. His tally ran up to 39.5 sacks in 115 regular season games, while also playing in 9 playoffs games during his tenure with us. With a 7.1 pass rush percentage, he's been our most threatening rusher in that time span.

Defensive tackle Erik Shrader was our fourth round pick in 2080. He's been in an active role as a rookie, although his role to a fulltime starter had to wait until his fourth season. He played in 127 regular season and 9 playoffs games for us, scoring 2 fumble return touchdowns.


And then there's Ellis McAlister. A 2074 sixth round pick afterthought at first, but from his first training camp and onwards, we knew this guy had more into him than all the scouts in the league realized. He had to ride the bench for 5 long seasons. And then the 2079 season rolled around. With McAlister at quarterback, we had a 12-4 campaign, with him throwing for 4,193 yards and 27 touchdowns against 14 interceptions. All in all, it might have been his best regular season. That season came to a painful halt in a 43-17 drubbing in which hew threw for 5 interceptions, a rarity even for McAlister. Long story short, he's been our starting quarterback for the last 9 seasons, with that last one being his worst in passing numbers. His contract demands are no longer in line with what he has done for us. So, sadly, it was time to move on.

Wait… Isn't kick holder Karsten Muchnick the only "quarterback" on roster? Why yes, indeed. We hope to re-sign Francisco Farley before the draft is over, because after that he'll go into the open market. Why would we want Farley back? Well, frankly, I have good hopes that he's our new hidden gem, that needs some polishing, but could be much better than all the scouts in the league think he is. We may dream, no?

So, that's where we're at. Basically quarterback-less and still $151 million short of getting under the cap with 53 players signed. Of course, we could just find a way to get out of the $135 million gap. Yes, all these cuts have saved us close to $100 million already.


Still, we're going to have to trade 2 or 3 players from our elite four: Theo Bondy, Kirk Hitchcock, Oliver Heath and Craig McCorkle. I'm hoping to salvage Bondy most prominently, but as you can imagine, he's currently the hottest player in negotiations. A tough situation.

And then there's the situation with all those potential hold outs, primarily our running sensation Reggie Thongchanh. It's getting less and less likely we'll be able to hold onto him, even despite the aforementioned release of Leo Belin.

Fun times for troubleshooter general managers. Not so much for those that restock through the draft season after season. My drafting skills have taken their toll now, combined with the stubbornness and stupidity of the player agents that keep on turning down better contracts than what their players want. So be it, this is where we're at.

I once said: Maassluis doesn't rebuild, we reload. "Restock" might have been better suited, but that's where I'm at. We'll get over this hump, fast.
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* 2005 Golden Scribe winner for best FOF Dynasty about IHOF's Maassluis Merchantmen
* Former GM of GEFL's Houston Oilers and WOOF's Curacao Cocktail
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Old 02-11-2020, 12:43 PM   #206
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Stubborn Player Agents!
Oh for four. Bullocks.

We tried to offer our four best and most expensive players a restructured contract. Kirk Hitchcock, Theodore Bondy and Keith Oliver currently have the three biggest cap figures in the league. Craig McCorkle is eighth behind a foursome of quarterbacks. So, as such, we offered them insane contracts ($252M over 5 years for Oliver, $235M over 5 years for Hitchcock, $215M over 5 years for Bondy, $135M over 4 years for McCorkle), but their agents made the unsurprising, yet very disappointing decision to turn down contracts that would give these guys enormous new signing boni.

Alas, Player agents in the IHOF have no sense of what money is. Heck, there's no way these players will get these kind of contracts elsewhere. Bondy maybe, but the other guys? Hell, no.

Five other guys have signed a restructured deal, but these are in the margins of our roster (no offense, guys).

A tougher decision was the release of one of, if not the best, punt returner in league history: Gabe Broady. His tenure in Maassluis ends after 7 seasons. He was an undrafted free agent signing in 2081 and became our premier punt returner halfway through that season. In the following 5 seasons, he was the league's best return specialist, combining for 8 touchdowns. For a short while in 2085 we benched him in favor of Clarence Blackwell and in 2087 Blackwell took over from this legend. Broady spent the entire season inactive. With 7 playoffs games added, his tally ends at 91 games played for us. Father time came early for him, the decline has already set in for him. Good luck elsewhere, Gabe...
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Old 02-12-2020, 04:12 PM   #207
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Exodus continues: Bye, McCorkle
Yup, Craig McCorkle is out. And so is Bart Farrell.

We found new homes for linebacker Craig McCorkle and safety Bart Farrell. McCorkle moves to the Arizona Miners, while Farrell joins the Texas Sharks. In return, we received fourth and fifth round picks in the 2089 draft respectively. Earlier on, we sent the 1.27 and 2.27 picks to the reigning IHOF champions (Houston Mustangs) for their first round pick in 2089 and their third round pick.

Craig McCorkle, inside linebacker, last season moved to the strongside. We picked him 18th overall in the 2079 draft and after a season of third linebacker duties, he burst into the league as a full time starter in 2080. In 2081 he earned his first All-IHOF first team selection and he repeated that in 2085. Last season he was a second teamer. Six season straight he topped the century mark in tackles. In 143 regular seasons games he made 940 tackles, 292 assists, 25.0 sacks, 16 interceptions, defended 99 passes and forced 21 fumbles. Yes, this guy has been a beast and at 29 years old is still at the top of the game. Yeah, we miss him already.

Bart Farrell was our short term replacement for last season's free agency loss Bart Guthrie. Farrell played very well in the free safety slot, but for dubious reasons we were not allowed to offer a cap out to him. A shame, as it would have made us keep him. But so be it, off he goes after just one season. Good luck in Texas!

Attempts to persuade the moronic player agents of the three remaining expensive star players resulted in another failure. It's becoming pretty clear: by tomorrow, we'll make a decision on which of these three guys will leave Maassluis: Theodore Bondy, Kirk Hitchcock and Keith Oliver. Traditionally we've been a team of elite defensive tackles and wide receivers, which doesn't bode well for Hitchcock, unless he actually wants to play elsewhere. But, honestly, I haven't made up my mind yet. We have a very sound trade offer for Bondy, whilst the other two guys have been overlooked on the market. Perhaps their inflated salaries scare other team's general managers away.

One fellow general manager asked about Keith Oliver's contract demands. I was polite, offered the insight, but also added: this is what he wants us to pay. Oliver will lower his demands elsewhere, he knows he's much more valuable to us than for another team. [Yes, I'm convinced that's how FOF8 works, it makes you pay for cohesion boosts].

Will 2088 be a lost season? Hell, no. It's way too earlier to make such claims. We're salvaging a majority of our starters and I'm convinced we'll be competitive and fill some of the voids with guys that were main backups last season. The glaring holes are at quarterback and defensive tackle, we'll have to figure out what to do there though...

All in all, this interesting and moving off-season continues...
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* Former GM of GEFL's Houston Oilers and WOOF's Curacao Cocktail
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Old 02-13-2020, 02:45 PM   #208
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Rock, Paper, Scissors…
Oliver wins. I mean, loses. He's out.

Ladies and gentlemen, that was a tough decision. We're down our franchise defensive tackle. A sad day for the Merchantmen defense, a position we usually cherish, especially when he's the best at it.

Well, Heath Oliver, it was a good run, five season in orange, white and blue. The acquisition started in the 2081 draft, when we shipped two second round picks, a third and a sixth to the Outer Banks Ospreys for their first rounder in 2083. It ended up being the #9 overall and at that slot we grabbed the best player of his class, just like we did in the previous bunch of drafts. In those five seasons, he missed nine games due to concussion in 2084. His statistics aren't all that shiny, but he earned all-IHOF first team honors in 2086 and was probably a key figure in our run defense, giving other players the opportunity to make plays.

It is what it is. We turned down a couple of great offers for Theodore Bondy, as I suspect we can do a better job winning games with him and Kirk Hitchcock still around.

But, y'know, it's been a tough off-season. We've released 12 players and I'm not yet convinced we've reached the end of the tunnel. Cap space should be cleared in time for the end of the draft, with just enough cap space to sign Francisco Farley, regardless of whether Bondy and Hitchcock will sign a renegotiated deal that gives them much less money (yeah, remember, player agents are lunatics), but closer to their demands.

The draft has been ongoing and we've already picked a replacement defensive tackle in Corwin Nowlin. Outside linebacker Trenton Mendelssohn and kicker Emmett Wells were other other two third round picks. Additionally, we swapped our fourth rounder for a pick next draft from North Plainfield. We still have our fifth, sixth and seventh round picks to use.

Again, cap hell is not yet over, but the end is in sight. Some inevitable hold outs are upcoming, I just hope we can get Howard Humphrey to stay away from that and offer our all-IHOF first teamer a contract both parties can agree with.

So it goes. Got to keep believing we can manage it!
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Old 02-14-2020, 07:56 PM   #209
MIJB#19
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Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
Merchantmen trade WR Gaylor
The exodus of Maassluis Merchantmen players this off-season continues. Today the Merchantmen management announced the trade of wide receiver Tucker Gaylor to the Paris Musketeers for a fourth round pick in the 2089 draft.

Gaylor broke out with 51 catches for 720 yards as the Merchantmen #2 receiver last season. It was his third season in Maassluis after being taken in the fifth round of the 2085 draft. He had just 12 catches for 142 yards before last season.

Being in the last year of his rookie contract, Gaylor felt that he deserved an improved contract, which the Merchantmen under their current cap situation can't afford. It didn't take long for an interested trade partner to fly bye, as the Paris Musketeers offered a fourth round pick for him.

---

Merchantmen re-sign QB Farley
The Maassluis Merchantmen have agreed terms with quarterback Francisco Farley to a new one-year contract. Farley was the third stringer for the Merchantmen last season, seeing no action in his rookie campaign. The undrafted free agent signing has been tipped to be the starting quarterback in Maassluis for the upcoming 2088 season.

The Merchantmen released Ellis McAlister earlier on this off-season and Farley was a restricted free agent. Earlier on kick holder Karsten Muchnick signed a new two-year contract.

Odds are the Merchantmen will bring in a bunch of young quarterbacks to challenge Farley for the starting role. If cap space requires it, Maassluis may or may not look in different directions, as the Merchantmen general manager M.IJ.B. made no secret of wanting to go for a new quarterback in the 2089 season. That said, the Merchantmen are known for trying to be competitive all the time. Even during rebuilding seasons, which the 2088 is shaping up to be.

---

Merchantmen present 2088 draft class
Two defensive tackles, a linebacker, a running back, a wide receiver and a new kicker. That's the score for the Maassluis Merchantmen in the recently completed 2088 amateur draft.

Running back Bart Gunja was taken in the fifth round. The Merchantmen believe he has the much desired combination of hole recognition and breakaway speed, similar to last season's starter Reggie Thongchanh. Expectations are this might be Thong's last season in Maassluis, playing on the final season of his rookie contract. Gunja will likely have to ride the bench, if he makes the final 53-men roster.

Wide receiver Tracy Arntt was taken primarily for his special team skills. A promising kickoff returner, Arntt fits the Merchantmen tradition well. He was taken late in the seventh round, but he was already considered at the fifth round by the team. Arntt has okay big play ability to make him suitable for hail mary plays as well.

Kicker Emmett Wells was graded highest at his position. The Merchantmen took him with the final pick of the third round, acquired in the deal that saw the Merchantmen trade their first round pick to the Houston Mustangs for a 2089 first round pick to save cap space.

Defensive tackle Corwin Nowlin was the first player taken in the third round by the Merchantmen. He's considered as a promising pass rusher, which shouldn't be a surprise given the tradition of fast defensive linemen.

Fifth round pick Kurt Ackerman is another fast defensive tackle. Given the current state of the defensive line, surely Ackerman and Nowlin will see a lot of playing time in their rookie campaigns.

The middle of three third round picks, linebacker Trenton Mendelssohn appears to be yet another pass rusher joining a depleted front seven. He was regarded the second best outside linebacker of this class.
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Old Yesterday, 12:36 PM   #210
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: We have a 2088 roster!
... and 12 players in excess.

But yes, it's been a frantic post draft free agency with no less than 25 new players signed. With them, three out of contract second year pro free agents returned to Maassluis. In particular the return of defensive end Archie Exner gives me a happy face, but bringing back kickoff returner Mason Wilson and special teamer Santiago Harper are good stories.

Of the 25 new signings, one had a previous stint in Maassluis: third year guard Vernon Sam. He failed to make our 2086 regular season roster, got picked up by the Frederick Red Menace deep into that season and hung around for the entire 2087 season as well, without every seeing any action. Here he'll be battling for the third guard spot on our roster, most likely.

Of the other 24 guys are new names, five aren't undrafted rookies. Running back Braxton Szporluk finished the 2087 season on the Houston Mustangs roster, but missed out on a championship ring being inactive during the playoffs. Safety Bart Sword saw some action for the Moontown Darksiders in 2086, sat out the 2087 regular season without a contract in IHOF, but we'll give this special teamer a new opportunity. Running back Asher Ford was a rookie in 2087, but didn't get even a training camp or pre-season contract, he'll get his first shot here. Tight end Renaldo Crawford was the Toronto Lake Monsters' third round pick last season, got cut in pre-season, then went to the Frederick Red Menace in week 16 for a couple of weeks inactivity and a restricted status this off-season, only to not get a contract there and now joining us. And then there's Jumbo Mojica, a defensive tackle, third round pick for the Chicago Norsemen last season, but inactive all-season long, only very recently released by the Norsemen after ownership change.

Still keeping track? We added 19 undrafted rookie free agents to our roster. Here we go: QB Alvin Stoner, QB/KH Buba Haim, TE Brett Smith, TE Jeffery Blake, WR/KR Roman Gomes, WR Keegan Gelat, WR/KR Rickey Pineo, WR/KR/PR Santiago Messenger, G Nathan Willis, DE Terrence Gellar, LB Jace Peterson, LB Alex Palmer, LB Sebastian Strobel, CB Devin Cherron, CB Alfredo Bennett, CB Ted Frias, S Brenden Hoekstra, S Kennedy Reid and S Levi Blanchard. It would be unfair to all the other guys to pick out a guy or two who stand out, we'll let their training camp performance speak for them.

And that's it for now?

Okay, I see you wondering, what's the cap situation? We've currently got $2.73M of room to work with. Most likely the lion share of this will go to our All-IHOF tackle Howard Humphrey to extend his contract as his rookie deal is ending after this season.

We have six other players scheduled to become free agents after the season. Defensive end Andy Russell appears to be the easiest one to talk into a new deal as he's willing to drop some salary this season and have it spread out as a bonus over three season. Safeties Alexander Marty and Riddick Newsome both have reasonable contract demands, but we'll need all of what Russell is willing to give up for that duo. Defensive tackle A.J. Ritt wants a raise we can't afford for now. Punter Doug Guynes is requesting a raise that might be possible if Humphrey is willing to work with us. And then there's our star running back Reggie Thongchanh, who quite simply will be out of contract after the season. Thong' is willing to play out his rookie contract way below his market value and contract demands.

How is next season looking? The release of Heath Oliver has given us a big hit, but at $38.79M of dead cap space, we're in an okay spot. I'm currently calculating us at $115M under the $489M salary cap. It's reasonable to expect the out of contract players to take about $35M from that stack, which will put us at roughly 35 players signed and $80M to go. The draft will be very interesting with 6 additional picks, including the Houston first round pick. That's 13 more players, putting us at only 3 more empty roster spots counting towards the cap. Realistically, we'll have the cap space for a quarterback once again.

But, but, what about this season? Well, it'll be tricky. I'd love for us to bring in a mentor for Francisco Farley, providing he comes through pre-season and training camp as our obvious #1. But even then, what else can we do? A bunch of potential mentors signed with the better franchises in the league, there are 3 or 4 left on the open market. One of them is the unaffordable franchise quarterback we released not so long ago: Ellis McAlister. No, he's not coming back this season, that's out of the question, impossible, can't be done, no way we'll find the cap space to bring him back.

One more thing? Yes, one more. We'll be releasing 5 players after training camp. Quite simply, we have a roster size limit of 60 to meet. It'll be tough, but probably not out of a luxury. With no disrespect meant, at the bottom of the roster we're weaker than we have been in at least a decade.

On the positive side... Well... We salvaged Theo Bondy, Kirk Hitchcock, kept the O-line together and shockingly saw Thong' decide to hang around for one more season. We might have to go run-heavy this season to protect whomever is going to play at quarterback for us, quite possibly our weakest opening day starter aside from Calvin Snider in the inaugural 2004 campaign. Don't say "what about Malik Weaver in 2044?", he wasn't our opening day starter, Perry Coleman was and got hurt early on, at which point we made the mistake to not go with proven emergency quarterback Harry Osborne, but instead giving that Weaver kid 10 starts, somehow seeing us win 4 of those...

Anyway, that's the post-draft free agency round up. The unwrapping moments to look out for are next Monday and Wednesday, when our scouts tell us the training camp results and what they think on second look after the first bit of pre-season activity.

Until then, we'll sail on. Go Merchantmen!
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* 2005 Golden Scribe winner for best FOF Dynasty about IHOF's Maassluis Merchantmen
* Former GM of GEFL's Houston Oilers and WOOF's Curacao Cocktail
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