Major league baseball has cast envious glances at the National Football League's compensation procedure with good reason.
With only a week left for NFL clubs to make offers to 115 option-playouts who became free agents on Feb. 1, only three have moved to new clubs.
The old clubs didn't have to be compensated with draft choices because the new clubs are paying them salaries below $55,000 annually.
The New York Giants signed Gary Falcon of the New England Patriots; the St. Louis Cardinals signed defensive back Tim Collier of the Kansas City Chiefs, and Cleveland signed defensive back Billy Cesare of the Tampa Bay Buccanees.
Eleven other option-playouts have signed with their old clubs and the 90 other free agents have until April 15 to receive offers from new clubs or sign with their old employers.
Under the NFL's procedure, clubs may make a qualifying offer to option-playouts. By doing so they can retain the free agent by matching the offer of a new club.
If the old club does not match a new club's offer, the new club must compensate the old club with draft choices, based on the salary paid by the new club.
Over the first three years of the labor agreement, there were 310 option-playouts. Fifty of the free agents moved on to new teams, 191 signed with their old teams, and 69 retired or went to the Canadian Football League.
For the 241 who remained in the NFL (the 191 who signed with their old teams and the 50 who moved to new clubs), the average increase in salary was 34.2 per cent, according to the NFL Management Council.