Definitive Guide to NFL Free Agency and the CBA

2010 NFL FREE AGENCY QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

Q.  When can players start being signed in the 2010 free agency signing period?

A.  Beginning at 12:01 AM ET on Friday, March 5. 

Q.  What are the categories of free agency?

A.  Players are either "restricted" or "unrestricted" free agents.  Within the categories are also "transition" and "franchise" players.

Q.  What is the time period for free agency signings this year?

A.  For restricted free agents, from March 5 to April 15.  For unrestricted free agents who have received the June 1 tender from their prior Club, from March 5 to July 22 (or the first scheduled day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is later).  For franchise players, from March 5 until the Tuesday after the 10th week of the regular-season (November 16).  If he does not sign by November 16, he must sit out the season.  There are no transition player designations this year.

Q.  What is the difference between a restricted free agent and an unrestricted free agent?

AIn the 2010 League Year, players become restricted free agents when they complete three, four or five accrued seasons and their contract expires.  Unrestricted free agents have completed six or more accrued seasons.  An unrestricted free agent is free to sign with any club with no compensation owed to his old club.

Q.  What constitutes an "accrued season?"

A.  Six or more regular-season games on a club's active/inactive, reserved-injured or "physically unable to perform" lists.

Q.  Other than accrued seasons, what determines a restricted free agent? 

A.  He has received a "qualifying" offer (a salary level predetermined by the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and its players) from his old club.  He can negotiate with any club through April 15.  If the restricted free agent accepts an offer sheet from a new club, his old club can match the offer and retain him because it has the "right of first refusal."  If the old club does not match the offer, it can possibly receive draft-choice compensation depending on the amount of its qualifying offer.  If an offer sheet is not executed, and the player receives the June 1 tender from his old club, the player's rights revert exclusively to his old club on June 1.

Q.  What determines an unrestricted free agent?

A.  A player with six or more accrued seasons whose contract has expired.  He is free to sign with any club, with no compensation owed to his old club, through July 22 (or the first scheduled day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is later).  At that point, his rights revert to his old club if it made a "tender" offer (110 percent of last year's salary) to him by June 1.  His old club then has until the Tuesday after the 10th week of the season (November 16) to sign him.  If he does not sign by November 16, he must sit out the season.  If no tender is offered by June 1, the player can be signed by any club at any time throughout the season. 

Q.  What determines a transition player?

A.  A transition player must be offered a minimum of the average of the top 10 salaries of the prior season at the player's position or 120 percent of the player's prior year's salary, whichever is greater.  A transition player designation gives the club a first-refusal right to match within seven days an offer sheet given to the player by another club after his contract expires.  If the club matches, it retains the player.  If it does not match, it receives no draft pick compensation from that club.  In 2010, a club may designate a franchise player or a transition player in lieu of a franchise player, as well as one additional transition player. 

Q.  What determines a franchise player?

A.  The salary level offer by a player's club determines what type of franchise player he is.  An "exclusive" franchise player -- not free to sign with another club -- is offered a minimum of the average of the top five salaries at the player's position for the current year as of April 15, or 120 percent of the player's previous year's salary, or the average of the top five salaries at his position as of the end of last season -- whichever of the three is greater.  If a player is offered a minimum of the average of the top five salaries of last season at his position, or 120 percent of the player's previous year's salary, he becomes a "non-exclusive" franchise player and can negotiate with other clubs.  His old club can match a new club's offer, or receive two first-round draft choices if it decides not to match. 

Q.  Can a club decide to withdraw its franchise or transition designations on a player?

A.  Yes

Q.  Can a club then use them on other players?

ANot in the 2010 season.  A club can withdraw its franchise or transition designations and the player then automatically becomes an unrestricted free agent either immediately or when his contract expires.

_ _ _ _ _ _

CBA-RELATED QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

Q.        When does the CBA expire should there be no extension to the agreement?

A.         In March of 2011.

Q.        Will there be a college draft in 2011?

A.         Yes.

Q.        What is the "Final League Year" in the current agreement?

A.         The "Final League Year" is the term used in the CBA to refer to the last year of the agreement, which is 2010.  The 2010 League Year begins on March 5. 

Q.        What are the differences between the "Final League Year" and any other "League Year?"

A.         The principal differences are that in the "Final League Year" there is no salary cap and there are substantial additional restrictions on player free agency and reductions in player benefits.

Q.        Are current player benefits affected in the Final League Year?

A.         We expect the amount of current player benefits to decline in the Final League Year.  The union agreed that in the Final League Year, clubs would be relieved of obligations regarding numerous benefit programs.  Examples include second career savings (401K), player annuity, health reimbursement arrangement, severance pay and performance-based pay.  The total league-wide contributions to such plans in 2009, the last capped year, were in excess of $335 million or more than $10 million per club. 

Q.        Are retired player benefits affected in the Final League Year?

A.         Commissioner Goodell has stated in a letter to the NFL Alumni Association Board of Directors that there will be no reduction in pension or disability payments to retired players during the Final League Year (2010).  Since at least the fall of 2007, NFL owners have consistently agreed and planned that they will not reduce the funding for pension or disability benefits for retired players, nor will they change qualifications on payments to players under the 88 Plan during the Final League Year. 

Q.        What determines an unrestricted free agent in the Final League Year (2010)?

A.         In capped seasons, a player whose contract has expired becomes an unrestricted free agent if he has four or more accrued seasons.  In the Final League Year (2010), a player whose contract has expired becomes an unrestricted free agent only if he has six or more accrued seasons.  An unrestricted free agent is free to sign with any club with no compensation owed to his old club. 

Q.         What determines whether a player is a restricted free agent in the "Final League Year?"

A.         In capped seasons, a player whose contract expires becomes a restricted free agent if he has three accrued seasons.  In the Final League Year (2010), a player whose contract expires becomes a restricted free agent if he has three, four or five accrued seasons.

Q.        In addition to the right to designate a franchise (or transition) player each capped year, can clubs designate additional players in the Final League Year?

A.         Yes, one additional player can be tagged.  In capped years, a club may designate a franchise player or a transition player in lieu of a franchise player.  In the Final League Year (2010), the above rule also applies, however, a club may also designate one additional transition player.  A transition player must be offered a minimum of the average of the top 10 salaries of the prior season at the player's position or 120 percent of the player's prior year's salary, whichever is greater.  A transition player designation gives the club a first-refusal right to match within seven days an offer sheet given to the player by another club after his contract expires.  If the club matches, it retains the player.  If it does not match, it receives no draft pick compensation from that club.

Q.        What is the Final Eight Plan?

A.         During the Final League Year, the eight clubs that make the Divisional Playoffs in the previous season have additional restrictions that limit their ability to sign unrestricted free agents from other clubs.  In general, the four clubs participating in the championship games are limited in the number of unrestricted free agents that they may sign; the limit is determined by the number of their own unrestricted free agents signing with other clubs.  They cannot sign any UFAs unless one of theirs is signed by another team.

For the four clubs that lost in the Divisional Playoffs, in addition to having the ability to sign unrestricted free agents based on the number of their own unrestricted free agents signing with other clubs, they may also sign players based on specific financial parameters.  Those four only will be permitted to sign one unrestricted free agent for $5,807,475 million or more in year one of the contract, plus the number of their UFAs who sign with another team. They also can sign any unrestricted free agents for no more than $3,861,823 million in year one of the contract with limitations on the per year increases.

In the case of all final eight teams, the first year salary of UFAs they sign to replace those lost cannot exceed the first year salary of the player lost with limitations on the per year increases.

Q.        Is there an Entering Player Pool in the Final League Year?

A.         Yes.  The CBA provides that the league has the right to keep the rookie pool in the Final League Year. 

Q.        Is there a Minimum Team Salary in the Final League Year?

A.         There is no Minimum Team Salary in the Final League Year.

Q.        Are there individual player minimum salaries in the Final League Year?

A.         Yes, but they rise at a rate somewhat slower than player minimum salaries rise in capped years.

Q.        Do any player contract rules from capped years remain in place for the Final League Year?

A.         Yes.  Some rules like the "30% increase rule" are still in effect in the Final League Year for player contracts signed in capped years.  That rule restricts salary increases from 2009 to 2010 and beyond.  For example: a player with a $500,000 salary in 2009 would be limited to annual salary increases of $150,000 ($500,000 x 30%) beginning in 2010.

SB Nation Featured Video
X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Music City Miracles

You must be a member of Music City Miracles to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Music City Miracles. You should read them.

Join Music City Miracles

You must be a member of Music City Miracles to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Music City Miracles. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9341_tracker