"Team prestige" plays a minor role in your ability to attract free agents in the offseason. If you are a good team, you have a better shot at wooing players to sign with your team. If you suck, then you can just sign sucky players and keep sucking. (I think this is how EA pitched it during launch, but I may be paraphrasing.)
So my question is: Does your team's record affect your ability to re-sign your current players? If you are the Browns, will your players see the franchise crumbling around them and flee to greener pastures? If you are playing an offline CFM and blowing out 31 rookie CPUs to boost your self-esteem, will Madden reward you with an easier re-signing process? Let's find out!
Setting up the Test
To answer these questions, I edited a roster so every single player on the team had a contract expiring in the same season. (Side note: If you edit a player's contract length in the middle of a season, it won't take effect until the following season. So if a player has one year left on his current deal and you change it to six, you still have to go through the re-signing process in game.) For the sake of consistency, I changed everyone's age to 26 (about the age when rookies are re-signing after their draft day deals).
I ran tests with Force Wins to set up teams to go 0-16, 8-8. and 16-0. I always offered the "Fair Offer" to every player regardless of how much sass I got back from their agent. The fair offer is based on the player's position and their OVR and almost always feels like it's way more than they deserve. In different tests, I offered contracts at two different times:
- As soon as negotiations become available
- After the playoffs in the all-or-nothing last chance mode
Waiting Until the Offseason to Offer
For the first round of testing, I put on my procrastinator hat and ignored all contract negotiations until after the season was over. You don't have to offer a contract just because a player is ready to negotiate, and there are no negative side effects if you do nothing. However, if you wait until the offseason to send a deal, you only have one shot. If they reject your offer, you lose them to free agency. (Side note: I want to say it'd be cool if some players either refused to negotiate during the regular season or won't negotiate past a certain week like in real life, but re-signing guys is already hard enough.) Anyway, here are the results:
Percentage of Players Who Accepted the Fair Offer at End of Season
From what I could tell (and from what you can see if you can understand bar charts), there's no real difference based on your record if you wait until the season is over to make your first "fair" offer. It's all about 50/50. In fact: Only 51% of players accepted their "fair offer" contract at the end of the year. So if you wait until after the season to submit your offers, you better be ready to overpay or you will lose half of your team.
Offering Contracts As You Go
The more responsible way to manage your team is to negotiate with your players as their turn comes up. Starting in Week 3, your team will have up to two players each week willing to begin contract negotiations with the highest rated players going first.
I offered contracts to every player right away, and here's what I got:
Overall, 60% of players accepted their fair offers when sent right away. This is up from the 51% if you wait till after the playoffs (in case you forgot that number from two paragraphs ago).
If you just count the negotiations that took place during the final 8 games (when the state of the current team is a little more obvious), there is a little bigger gap: 0-16 had 57% acceptance, 8-8 had 60%, and 16-0 jumped up to 69%.
I had one 16-0 season where 70% of guys accepted their fair offer right away and one 0-16 where only 50% of them accepted. So it does seem there is some effect; however (why is there always a however), there was also one 0-16 season where 63% accepted and a even a 16-0 season where 61% accepted. So what the hell do I know.
Whether or not winning has an effect on your ability to re-sign your players, one thing is clear: Beware of the Fair Offer. The next post will break down how dangerous sending a Fair Offer can be and how stupid some player responses are when you try to counter a Fair Offer.
Footnote: Something to Watch Out For
There were 21 instances where a player's initial Fair Offer actually changed if you didn't lock something in before the offseason. In every case, they asked for fewer years and less money, and in every case, they rejected your fair offer.
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