For the first time in 17 years, the National Football League is without a salary cap. That's a significant occurance and one more sign that armageddon could arrive in one year if a new collective bargaining agreement isn't reached and a lockout or strike takes place in 2011. The cap went away at midnight Eastern time last night as the NFL's free agency season began. The Green Bay Packers protected all of their restricted free agents with tender offers but 4 veterans are now on the open market as unrestricted free agents. Negotiations have apparently taken place to retain Chad Clifton, Mark Tauscher and Aaron Kampman. Ahman Green is the 4th but I'm not sure the Packers will be as agressive with him. Clifton and Kampman may have other suitors. There are reports Clifton will visit with the Washington Redskins this weekend. Veteran left tackle Chris Samuels retired earlier this week and owner Daniel Snyder is not bashful about spending money, but the Packers have few options at left tackle without Chad. As for Kampman, he probably longs to return to the defensive end position with his hand on the ground in a 4-3 front, where he produced Pro Bowl seasons for the Packers. There are whispers he could be on the Chicago Bears radar. Chicago is expected to make a serious run at Julius Peppers of the Carolina Pathers with a big money offer, he's due to visit the windy city today. If a deal can't be struck, they make look at Kampman as Plan B. The Packers want to retain Kampman's services as an outside 3-4 linebacker. While it looked like he struggled adjusting last season, he did lead the team in quarterback pressures until he blew out his knee against the 49ers. Tauscher is likely to come back, he felt the Packers were more than fair with him last year, waiting until his surgically repaired knee was well and he clearly made a difference for the leaky offensive line once he returned to the starting lineup. Among available free agents at other positions, you wonder if the Packers might jump into the Dunta Robinson sweepstakes. He was a solid corner for the Houston Texans and may be the best, and most expensive defensive back on the market. Safety Antrel Rolle of Arizona plays another position of need. Ryan Clark of Pittsburgh might be a second level free agent to help bolster the secondary. Back to the point I made at the top, with an uncapped year now in place, it will be very interesting to see if NFL owners are big spenders, or big savers, because there is no salary floor either. Should be a fun shopping spree this spring.