2018 NFL Free Agents: How Free Agency Works? Terms and rules you should know

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Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a restricted free agent and an unrestricted free agent?

What does it mean to be labeled franchisee? How much is it worth? How many times can this happen?

What is the amount of the salary cap? When should teams be below this threshold?

All of these questions and more are answered below in this Free Agency Fan Guide. All information courtesy of NFL Communications:

Question: When does the 2018 free agency signing period start?

A. At 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 14.

Q. What are the categories of free agency?

A. Players are either “restricted free agents” or “unrestricted free agents”. A Restricted Free Agent may be the subject of a “Qualifying Offer”. A restricted or unrestricted free agent may be designated by his former club as a franchise player or a transition player.

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

A. For restricted free agents, from March 14 to April 20. For unrestricted free agents who received the May 8 offer from their previous club, March 14 through July 23 (or the scheduled first day of NFL first training camp, whichever is later). For franchise players, March 14 through the Tuesday following week 10 of the regular season, November 13. For players in transition, from March 14 to July 23. After July 23 and until 4 p.m. ET on the Tuesday following Week 10 of the regular season, November 13, the predecessor club has exclusive trading rights over free agents and unrestricted transition players. If the players listed above do not sign by November 13, they must be absent for the season.

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

A. In the 2018 league year, players with three accumulated seasons who received a qualifying offer become restricted free agents when their contract expires at the end of the 2017 league year, March 14. Unrestricted free agents have completed four or more accumulated seasons. Upon the expiration of his 2017 contract, an unrestricted free agent is free to sign with any club without any draft pick compensation owed to his former club.

Q. What constitutes an “accumulated season”?

A. Six or more regular season games on active / inactive, booked / injured or reserve / physically unable to run rosters.

Q. How do the free agent rules apply to restricted free agents?

A. If a player with three accumulated seasons has received a “qualifying offer” (a salary offer predetermined by the collective agreement between the league and its players) from his former club. He can negotiate with any club until April 20. If the restricted free agent signs an offer with a new club, his old club can match the offer and withhold it because the qualifying offer entitles him to a “right of first refusal” on any club. offer sheet that the player signs. If the former club does not match the offer, it may receive a project choice allowance depending on the amount of its qualifying offer. If an offer is not executed by April 20 at the latest, the player’s negotiating rights revert exclusively to his former club. In addition, prior to the onset of free will, a player who would otherwise be a Restricted Free Agent may be designated by his former club as a Franchise Player or Transition Player.

Q. What determines an unrestricted free agent?

A. A player with four or more cumulative seasons whose contract has expired. He is free to sign with any club, with no draft pick compensation owed to his former club, until July 23 (or the scheduled first day of NFL first training camp, whichever is later. ). At this point, his negotiating rights revert exclusively to his former club if on May 8 the former club offered the player a one-year contract for 110% of his salary from the previous year. His former club then has until the Tuesday following week 10 of the regular season (November 13) to sign him. If he does not sign by this date, he must be absent for the season. If no offer is made before May 8, the player can be signed by any club at any time during the season.

Q. What determines a franchise player?

A. A player’s club salary offer determines what type of franchise player they are: exclusive or non-exclusive. An “exclusive” franchise player – not free to sign with another club – is offered the highest of (i) the average of the five best salaries in the player’s position for the current year at the end of the period. restricted free agent signing period April 20; or (ii) the amount of the bid required for a non-exclusive franchise actor, as explained below. Section 10, Section 2 (a) (i) of the CBA sets out the methodology, known as the “cap percentage average”, for calculating the required supply for a non-exclusive franchise actor: NFL Player Agreement for (A) the average of the five highest salaries of the previous year for the players in the position. . . in which the franchised player participated in the most games in the previous league year, this average will be calculated by: (1) adding the franchise tag amounts for players at that position for the five league years previous; (2) by dividing the amount obtained by the sum of the salary caps for the five previous league years. . . ; and (3) multiplying the resulting percentage by the salary cap for the upcoming league year. . . (the “average of the cap percentage”). . . ; or (B) 120% of his salary for the previous year, whichever is greater. . . . If a club extends a required offer to a “non-exclusive” franchise player in accordance with this article, the player will be allowed to negotiate a player contract with any club, with the exception of compensation for the draft pick of two. first round selections. in the event that he signs with a new club.

Q. How many franchise players and transition players can a team nominate each season?

A. A club may designate a franchise player or a player in transition from among its potential restricted or unrestricted free agents.

Q. Can a club decide to withdraw their franchise or transition designation from a player?

A. Yes. A club may withdraw their franchise or transition designation, and the player then automatically becomes an unrestricted free agent, either immediately if the offer is withdrawn after the start of the 2018 league year or upon expiration of their 2017 contract if the offer is withdrawn before the start of the 2018 championship year.

Q. What is the salary cap for 2018?

A. The salary cap is $ 177,200,000 per club.

Q. When do teams have to meet the salary cap?

A. At the start of the 2018 league year, which begins at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 14.

Q. If a team is under the salary cap at the end of a given season, can the team “carry over” space to the next season?

A. Yes. A team may carry over from one league year to the next league year by submitting a notice to the NFL by 4 p.m. ET on the day following the team’s last regular season game, stating the amount of space that the club wishes to carry forward.

Q. What is the maximum amount of space a club can keep?

A. A club can carry over 100 percent of its remaining room from 2017 to its adjusted salary cap for 2018.

Ryan Dunleavy can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on twitter @rydunleavy. Find our Giants coverage on Facebook.



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