Tuesday, December 19, 2006

One-Team Players Going the Way of the Dinosaurs

Allen Iverson on the Denver Nuggets. Eric Gagne on the Texas Rangers. Jeff Bagwell retiring after a career with the Houston Astros. Brad Radke retiring after a career with the Minnesota Twins.

Free agency and the rising power of sports agents are turning single-team lifers into an anachronism.

Although some teams have begun to sign youngsters to extended contracts (Jeremy Bonderman and the Tigers the latest example), agents are structuring deals to free their clients for at least one more lucrative shot at free agency.

And other teams are willing to oblige by throwing money at an aging or injured star to boost ticket sales and potentially get some decent production as well.

So remember Derek Jeter and the Yankees, Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, Peyton Manning and the Colts. They may be the last of the one-team players—or the future of team-jumping free agents.

ESPN.com illustration