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Show me the money? Ex-stars say cash isn’t always king in NFL free agency

The first time he entered free agency, former NFL linebacker Bart Scott wasn’t afraid to make a tough call. He had survived a rough Detroit neighborhood. He prided himself on playing through pain, having endured Michigan winters and playing on dirt fields. And he arrived in the NFL as an undrafted free agent — from a school that flew a chartered UPS plane to games.

“It had no windows,” Scott said, “We landed and I was asleep and I thought we were f—ing crashing.”

Not much fazed him. He, and other former NFL players, understand the decisions many current players must make once free agency begins Wednesday. Money is a motivator, but there are other factors players consider as well.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Here’s a look at different perspectives from three prominent former players as they were about to hit free agency for the first time: Scott, running back Fred Taylor — both were Pro Bowlers — and defensive lineman Ziggy Hood — the Pittsburgh Steelers’ first-round pick in 2009.6

“If I’m able to garner this amount [on an offer] at that time, what happens if I get a full year and an opportunity to show what I can do?” he said. “It was me betting on myself and taking a shorter deal to show what I could do.

“Why lock myself down until I’m 30 and sign a deal under market [value] when I know it will change?”

Baltimore’s deal would allow Scott to hit free agency again as he entered his prime. His first season as a full-time starter in Baltimore (this time next to Lewis) worked out perfectly: Scott finished with a career-high 135 tackles, 9.5 sacks, two interceptions and nine passes defensed.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Two years later, he wanted to cash in on free agency but also consider life after football. When his defensive coordinator in Baltimore, Rex Ryan, became New York Jets coach, Scott knew where he wanted to go. He signed a six-year deal worth $48 million; Scott said Baltimore made him an identical offer.

“I wanted to be in a place I could make a transition off the field,” he said. “I knew New York had never seen such brash bravado from the Jets. I knew they’d be attracted to the in-your-face, unapologetic, tough, physical, braggadocio mentality me and Rex would bring.”

Scott said that sort of attitude helped him post-NFL. After he retired from the Jets following the 2012 season, he spent five years working for CBS Sports and currently has a radio show on ESPN New York with Alan Hahn.