The older teams are still relative to their period. We will most likely at some time re-evaluate the early teams, simply because standing out in a crowd of a dozen teams is a lot easier than standing out amongst 32. The formulas we used to rate the teams did not take this into account. Will the 42 Bears still be one of the top teams? Yes. Maybe not as dominant as they are right now though.
We have to rate the older teams this way, otherwise there would be no way to let them play in the sim. You would either have a team that dominates even more than it does now because their actual stats blows every modern team out of the water and the players underperform, or they all underperform because we say there is no way an older player can keep up with today's game. Normalizing the older teams to today's game can be seen sort of like saying if yesterday's top athletes grew up today playing today's game, this is what we would expect.
Although I would argue how would today's players handle playing on the old teams. Let's see them play the entire game on offense and defense.
In any case, in order to allow the other teams to be competitive, we had to compromise and make some assumptions. I think we still have to work on the 40s teams though.
As far as viewing players without a team, there isn't a way right now. What most people do is set up their exhibition team so they can check prices and just never enter them in a league.