With the lockout ending today, free agency would seem to be in place:
In the union lawyers’ world, every player would enter the league as an unrestricted free agent, an independent contractor free to sell his services to any team. Every player would again become an unrestricted free agent each time his contract expired. And each team would be free to spend as much or as little as it wanted on player payroll or on an individual player’s compensation.
The NFL Commissioner presents multiple reasons why this is a bad idea, most of which are obviously hypocritical (some players might get paid less!, and yet the players mostly favor the new system). The serious argument I can see is that of competitive balance, but a) do fans really enjoy competitive balance or do they prefer national stage mega-rivalries of titans?, and b) there are ways to restore competitive balance other than using monopsonistic collusion in the labor market. Here is a serious economic analysis by John Vrooman (pdf), and it suggests persuasively that sharing venue revenue can remedy the revenue imbalance problem and restore balance to the extent that is required.
Here is James Surowiecki on this topic, he is not pro-owner. I’ve yet to see any good reason to object to the new status quo, namely universal free agency in the NFL.
I have not, however, followed this issue closely. Working on the Modern Principles text with Alex has, among other things, taken away from my consumption of sports.