[caption id="attachment_1429" align="aligncenter" width="420" caption="It's becoming likely that Campbell will remain beyond 2009"][/caption]
Jason Campbell may not have the opportunity to bolt from the Redskins should he have a big 2009 season after all.
The fact that Campbell's contract runs out after this year is one of the story lines that has wound its way through the offseason and right up until now. This would set up a nightmare scenario for the Redskins and their fans. If he catches on in his second year in Jim Zorn's system and has a big year he will be a hot commodity. His rookie contract is up. Under the current rules he would be an unrestricted free agent.
And there are many who think that if that happens, Campbell would take a look at what happened this past offseason with team lusting after other quarterbacks and extend a middle finger, perhaps two, to any contract offer that the Redskins may put on the table and put Redskins Park forever in his rear view mirror. That would leave the Redskins—again—starting from scratch at quarterback.
However, it looks more and more like Campbell will not be an unrestricted free agent in 2010.
The head of the NFL Players Association, DeMaurice Smith, has told players to prepare for a lockout in 2011. Ethan Albright, the Redskins player representative to the union, has cautioned players to save up some money to get ready for labor war.
All of that is two years away and there is plenty of time to fret over it. The more immediate impact of an impending labor situation comes at the end of this season. If there is no new agreement there will be no salary cap in 2010.
That may or may not be the bonanza for players that it seems to be at first glance. Among the poison pills that would drop in 2010 should there be no cap is a change that will require six years of NFL service to be an unrestricted free agent instead of the current four.
At the end of this season Campbell will have five seasons under his belt. Although his contract will be up he will be a restricted free agent. That means that if he gets an offer from another team the Redskins will have the opportunity to match it. If they choose not to match they will receive draft picks as compensation. That would be based on how much they offer Campbell in a one-year deal but it likely would be at least a first-round pick.
In short, he will remain under the Redskins' control. In the past another team could construct an offer that would be very difficult for the Redskins to match since they're always pressed up against the salary cap. But, under this scenario, there would be no cap and it's difficult to imagine Dan Snyder not finding a way to match if the team wants to keep him.
This still is an important year for Campbell. He's going into his fifth season and if he is going to establish himself as a solid quarterback this is the year. And the Redskins still will have to make some important decisions involving Campbell come next February.
But, given the labor situation, the chances of the Redskins' nightmare scenario with Campbell having a breakout year and then packing up the moving van and letting another team reap what the Redskins took so long to sow.