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“The hope was for this great litany of free agents that hit the market, the only thing that could hurt their economic futures is a reduced cap,” Schaffer said “And that’s what we have, a reduced cap.

“It appears top players will get top dollars, but you wonder what will happen to second-tier free agents.”

This year, at least, they could be in pretty decent shape because of the agreement between owners and players to spend all but 1 percent of the cap in cash. That is a big victory for the players as “dead money” going to players who are gone from a team’s roster will take up virtually no space.

But also consider this: How many teams want to bring in players from elsewhere who are unfamiliar with the system, the coaching staff and the other guys on the roster? Better off bringing back someone you just released, especially if it’s for fewer bucks.

And how many teams want to rely on rookies after the lockout erased offseason workouts and minicamps? Again, better to have an indoctrinated veteran on hand.

If you act quickly enough, that is, to re-sign him.

“We are talking to some of our own guys,” Colts general manager Chris Polian said. “We will not have the ability to retain all of our free agents. We will try to retain as many as we can, but I would not expect that to be 100 percent across the board.”