Every single year, the entire free agent pool gets drastically overpaid. This is a trend that has become commonplace in all major professional sports, and it’s why every young pro athlete dreams of one day becoming an unrestricted free agent.

But this year, NFL free agents could be in for even bigger paydays than usual. It seems as though the longer we wait for the new league year to get underway, the harder the hype machine is working to build up this lucky group of soon-to-be-available players.

Nnamdi Asomugha is obviously the cream of the crop, but is he really worth $19 million a year?

From a Jason La Canfora chat earlier today at NFL.com:

Mike, LA:

If there is a higher cap floor as is being proposed, how is Tampa going to be able to spend the money to reach it? Seems like they would need to drop $30mm+ in free agency. Don’t they pretty much have to sign Nnamdi to $16mm/year to meet these new standards?

Jason La Canfora, NFL Network:

I was talking to two GMs this morning and ran this very scenario by them, and neither disagreed. The Bucs are going to have to set the market with a deal or two to get up to the cash thresholds if that ends up being in the deal. And while I hear Nnamdi would like primarily to go to a team that is seen as a perennial contender, he also knows money talks and he ain’t a spring chicken anymore Remember, the Bucs put a pretty massive deal ont he table for Haynesworth a few years back as well. I could see them out-bidding others for Nnamdi (but that average per year is gonna be more like $19M than $16M). That would not surprise me. Talib could be gone and Ronde is year to year at this point. They have added some youngsters to the DL and need to address the back end. I also could see them being aggressive to add a weapon for Freeman as well.

I understand that Asomugha is one of the best free agents in NFL history, I really do. But that’s a lot of money for a 30-year-old cornerback, especially if the players end up taking a smaller piece of the revenue pie as part of a new collective bargaining agreement.

The problem with this offseason is that we’ve had so much time to discuss free agents that average players are becoming future Hall of Famers. Ike Taylor is arguably the second-best corner that will be available on the open market. Taylor’s a system guy who would be a below-average player in many NFL markets. He’s not a superstar; not even close.

But Steelers beat writer Ed Bouchette is starting to wonder if the team won’t have a chance to retain their No. 1 corner because his stock has risen so much during the work stoppage:

“Ike Taylor is obviously their best cornerback, but he’s become Mel Blount over the past two months,” Bouchette told a Pittsburgh radio station this morning. “I don’t put him in that category. They don’t wanna lose him, but it’s not like they are gonna lose a big piece of the puzzle, I don’t think.”

Making matters worse (or better, depending on who you are) is the fact that a high salary floor in the next CBA will likely force low-budget teams to spend like crazy in a small time period when the new league year begins.

So while the big names of this year’s abbreviated free agent run will likely cash in on life-changing contracts, the rest of the crowd will likely benefit greatly from one massive trickle-down effect.