Could The Vikings Lose Ray Edwards And Not Get (Immediate) Compensation?

Another excuse to use this picture? Certainly! (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

EDIT: Apparently, according to a link found by lifelongvike (which you can see in the comments), if Ray Edwards does become a restricted free agent, the Atlanta Falcons can't come after him, as the first-round pick they would have to give Minnesota would have to be their 2012 pick, which has already been sent to Cleveland, as detailed below. I was of the understanding that the Falcons could use the next first round pick they have available to them. My apologies for my misunderstanding of the rules.

See, I can apologize to people that actually deserve an apology. It just so happens that pretty much the only people here that deserve an apology are fans of the Minnesota Vikings. (-: - Chris

Speaking of Ray Edwards, since I believe we were, indeed, just speaking of Ray Edwards.

Len Pasquarelli of. . .The Sports Xchange? Really? When did that happen? And what the heck is The Sports Xchange? Okay, let me start over.

Len Pasquarelli of The Sports Xchange is reporting (with a hat tip to our friends at SB Nation Atlanta) that Edwards will be the apple of the Atlanta Falcons' free agency eye if/when/whatever free agency opens up for the National Football League. The Falcons were expected to address their defensive end needs in the 2011 NFL Draft, but used a ton of picks to move up for Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones, so there wasn't a whole lot else they could address.

Now, as we mentioned in the previous posting, Ray Edwards might be a restricted free agent, or he might be an unrestricted free agent. The status of such a thing would be tied to what happens with the Collective Bargaining Agreement. If the owners and the players hammer out a new deal, things might go back to the way they used to be, with four years being the benchmark necessary to gain unrestricted free agency. If the lockout gets lifted and the 2011 off-season is conducted under 2010 rules, then Edwards would be a restricted free agent, because the limit for that was lifted from four years of experience to six under the NFL rules last off-season.

But that might not matter to the Falcons either way. Yes, Edwards has been tendered at the first-round level by the Vikings in the event that he becomes a restricted free agent, meaning that if another team signed him away, they would have to surrender a first-round draft choice. So, why wouldn't that matter to the Falcons?

Remember that trade to move up and get Julio Jones that I talked about earlier? As part of that deal, the Falcons sent their 2012 first-round pick to the Cleveland Browns, so that pick is already spoken for. That means that the earliest that the Falcons could send their first-round pick to the Vikings would be 2013.

The trading up for Jones shows that the Falcons are clearly in a "win now" mode, and Arthur Blank isn't one to be stingy with the checkbook. It's entirely possible. . .and, quite frankly, likely, if Pasquarelli's reporting is to be believed. . .that the Falcons might come after Edwards regardless of his free agency status. After all, in a way they would be getting Edwards on credit. . .they'd be getting the immediate return and productivity of Edwards in 2011 and 2012, knowing that they wouldn't have to pay their "creditor". . .the Vikings. . .until 2013, when their first-round pick would come to Minnesota. If they think Edwards is the missing piece to a title run, they might figure that that 2013 first-round pick won't be a very high one (which is likely what they're counting on with their 2012 first-rounder) and decide that it's worth the risk.

It's definitely something to think about, and something that I personally hadn't thought about until I saw the story on SB Nation Atlanta. What do you folks think of this?

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