Restricted free agent


Restricted free agent

In the National Football League, a restricted free agent (RFA) is one with three accrued seasons of service, who has received a "qualifying" offer (a salary level predetermined by the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and its players) from his current club. He can negotiate with any club through a certain date. If the restricted free agent accepts an offer sheet from a new club, his old club has "right of first refusal," a seven-day period in which it may match the offer and retain him, or choose not to match the offer, in which case it may receive one or more draft picks for the upcoming draft from the player's new club. If an offer sheet is not executed, the player's rights revert to his old club the day after negotiations must end.

Tender amounts

In 2007, a second-round tender offer was added. The four tender amounts for 2008 are as follows: [ [http://www.boston.com/sports/football/patriots/reiss_pieces/2008/02/restricted_free.html Restricted free agent day - Reiss' Pieces - Boston.com ] ]

Each player that signs a tender receives the one-year salary that corresponds to the tender level. Teams which choose not to match an offer on a player with a low tender receive a draft pick corresponding to the round in which the player was originally drafted (except that the highest pick that can be surrendered for such a tender is a second-round pick). For example, a player who was originally drafted in the sixth round of the NFL Draft would force the team signing him to give his former team a sixth-round pick in the upcoming draft as compensation for his service. No compensation is required for an undrafted player on the lowest tender amount, so teams with valued undrafted RFAs are taking a notable risk by offering such tenders.

Examples of possible outcomes

In addition to the following outcomes, if a player does not receive an offer sheet from his original team, he becomes an unrestricted free agent. If a player signs the offer sheet from his original team, he remains with that team.

*Team declining to match offer sheet. Carolina Panthers cornerback Ricky Manning, Jr. was a restricted free agent in the 2006 offseason. Based on the tender placed on Manning by the Panthers, the team would receive a third-round pick in the NFL Draft if Manning signed with another team. On April 21, the Chicago Bears signed Manning to an offer sheet - a five-year contract worth up to $23 million. Although the Panthers had a full week to decide if they wanted to match the offer sheet, they announced on April 24 that they would not match. At this time, Manning became a member of the Bears and the Panthers received a third-round draft choice in the 2006 draft from Chicago.

*Team matching offer sheet. Arizona Cardinals offensive guard Reggie Wells was a restricted free agent in the 2006 offseason. On March 17, the Buffalo Bills signed him to an offer sheet - a five-year deal worth approximately $18 million. Four days later on March 21, the Cardinals matched the Bills' offer sheet for Wells, and he reverted to the Cardinals.

References


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