166 players change uniforms in Plan B derby

April 03, 1992|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

The Cleveland Browns topped the Plan B signing derby this season, but a federal jury in Minneapolis will determine the real winner.

When the fourth annual Plan B signing period ended at midnight Wednesday, 166 of the 541 unprotected players had changed teams. Each team is allowed to protect 37 players.

The Browns signed the most (11) while the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions and New Orleans Saints signed the fewest (two each).

The number of players signed jumped by 27 this year from 139 in 1991 to 166. The first two years, a total of 229 and 184 players were signed.

Nobody is sure why. One popular theory is that the turnover in coaching staffs -- nine new head coaches took over this year -- caused teams to look for more players.

Another theory is that the success of the Washington Redskins, who had five Plan B starters on defense on their Super Bowl winning team, encouraged teams to go for Plan B players.

More players may have been enticed by higher offers. According to the NFL Players Association, the average salary for Plan B players jumped from $277,000 to $430,000, although some players turned down lucrative offers.

Joe Jacoby of the Washington Redskins got an offer for $1.25 million from the Phoenix Cardinals but turned it down even though the Redskins are likely to pay him less than $700,000 this year. He made $585,000 last year.

Several agents suggested the league wanted to increase the total of signed players this year because of the upcoming free-agency trial.

"That's ridiculous," said general manager Charley Casserly of the Redskins, who signed only four for the second straight year.

Ernie Accorsi, the executive vice president of the Browns, said they signed 11 players for the second straight year because they're rebuilding. "I think it helps a team like us," Accorsi said.

In any case, the ultimate judgment on Plan B will be made by a Minneapolis jury later this year in the free-agency case. The owners will argue that their restricted free-agency plan is legal because 918 players have changed teams the last four years. The players argue it violates antitrust laws because the top 37 players on each club are denied the right to move.

Among the players to change teams this year were two starting quarterbacks. Dave Krieg of the Seattle Seahawks went to the Kansas City Chiefs, a move that prompted the Chiefs' Steve DeBerg to sign for a second term with Tampa Bay.

Although the San Diego Chargers lost the most players (11), the team that may have been hurt the most was the Houston Oilers. They lost only four players, but three of them were wide receivers, including Drew Hill and Tony Jones, who are valuable in their run-and-shoot offense. Both went to another run-and-shoot team, the Atlanta Falcons. It's probably not a coincidence that the Falcons coach is Jerry Glanville, the former Houston coach.

Plan B signings

Team.. .. .. .. .. .. ..Signed.. .. .. .. .. Lost

Cleveland.. .. .. .. .. ..11.. .. .. .. .. .. . 6

Tampa Bay.. .. .. .. .. ..10.. .. .. .. .. .. .10

San Diego.. .. .. .. .. ..10.. .. .. .. .. .. .11 TC Green Bay.. .. .. .. .. ..10.. .. .. .. .. .. ..6

L.A. Raiders.. .. .. .. .. 9.. .. .. .. .. .. ..6

N.Y. Jets.. .. .. .. .. .. 8.. .. .. .. .. .. ..1

Kansas City.. .. .. .. .. .8.. .. .. .. .. .. ..7

Minnesota.. .. .. .. .. ...7.. .. .. .. .. .. ..1

Pittsburgh.. .. .. .. .. ..7.. .. .. .. .. .. ..7

San Francisco.. .. .. .. ..7.. .. .. .. .. .. ..7

Atlanta.. .. .. .. .. .. ..6.. .. .. .. .. .. ..9

Buffalo.. .. .. .. .. .. ..6.. .. .. .. .. .. ..4

Miami.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .6.. .. .. .. .. .. ..6

Philadelphia.. .. .. .. .. 6.. .. .. .. .. .. ..3

Seattle.. .. .. .. .. .. ..6.. .. .. .. .. .. ..6

Indianapolis.. .. .. .. .. 5.. .. .. .. .. .. ..9

New England.. .. .. .. .. .5.. .. .. .. .. .. .10

N.Y. Giants.. .. .. .. .. .5.. .. .. .. .. .. ..6

Phoenix.. .. .. .. .. .. ..5.. .. .. .. .. .. ..7

Cincinnati.. .. .. .. .. . 4.. .. .. .. .. .. ..8

Dallas.. .. .. .. .. .. .. 4.. .. .. .. .. .. ..6

Denver.. .. .. .. .. .. .. 4.. .. .. .. .. .. ..1

Washington.. .. .. .. .. ..4.. .. .. .. .. .. ..2

L.A. Rams.. .. .. .. .. .. 4.. .. .. .. .. .. ..7

Houston.. .. .. .. .. .. ..3.. .. .. .. .. .. ..4

Chicago.. .. .. .. .. .. ..2.. .. .. .. .. .. ..1

Detroit.. .. .. .. .. .. ..2.. .. .. .. .. .. . 9

New Orleans.. .. .. .. .. .2.. .. .. .. .. .. ..6

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