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NFL Free Agency Terms
Wednesday, July 23rd 2014

Free Agency Terms


Q. What are the various categories of free agency?



A. A player can be designated as either a restricted, an unrestricted or an exclusive free agent. Within the categories are also "transition" and "franchise" players.

Q. What is a restricted free agent?



A. A Restricted Free Agent (RFA) is any player who has completed three accrued seasons and now has an expired contract. A RFA receives a "qualifying" offer (a salary level predetermined by the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and its players) from his old club. 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.

Q. What is an unrestricted free agent?



A. An Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA) is any player who has completed four or more accrued seasons and now has an expired contract. This player is free to sign with any team with no compensation owed to his old team.

Q. What is an exclusive rights free agent?



A. An Exclusive Rights Free Agent (EFA) is any player with less than 3 accrued seasons who is not currently under contract but may not negotiate with any team other than his prior 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. What is a transition player?



A. Any club may designate one player as a transition player in any given year. This player's club must offer a minimum of the average of the top 10 salaries of last season at the player's position or 120 percent of the player's previous 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 compensation.

Q. What is a franchise player?



A. Any club may designate one player as a franchise player in any given year. The salary level offer by a player's old 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 as of April 14, or 120 percent of the player's previous year's salary, whichever is greater. If the player is offered a minimum of the average of the top five salaries of last season at his position, 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? If so, can it then use them on other players?



A. 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. The club cannot name a new transition player (two allowed in 1993, one in 1994 and one in the final year of the CBA). It can name a new franchise player the next year. A club can, though, designate a transition player in lieu of a franchise player at any time.

Q. What determines each team's salary cap?



A. The Cap is determined by a complicated calculation system based on income that the teams earn during a League Year. A percentage of that income, termed Defined Gross Revenues (DGR), is allocated for player expenditures. The DGR is based on ticket sales, merchandise sales, and broadcasts. The DGR is then divided equally amongst all 32 teams producing a salary cap.

Here is the 3 step process in the actual cap calculation:

1) Projected DGR x CBA Percentage = Players Share DGR
2) Players Share minus Projected League wide Benefits = Amount Available for Player Salaries
3) Amount Available for Player Salaries / Number of Teams = Unadjusted Salary Cap per Team

It should be noted that the 'CBA Percentage' (in step one) was agreed to in the CBA extensions and are as follows: 2002 - 64%, 2003 - 64.25%, 2004 - 64.75%, 2005 - 65.5%, 2006 - 64.5%, 2007 - Uncapped Year


Back to 2005 Free Agency News


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Important NFL Dates:
March 1, 2004
Expiration date of contracts due to expire in 2005
March 2, 2005
Free agency and trading period begins
April 15, 2005
Restricted free agent offers deadline
April 23-24, 2005
2004 NFL Draft, New York City, New York

Franchise Designation Amounts

Here is a list of the dollar amounts required to franchise a player at the various positions. 2005 marks the first time ever that quarterback is not at the top of this list.

Cornerback - $8.816 million
Quarterback - $8.078 million
Wide Receiver - $7.768 million
Offensive Line - $7.424 million
Defensive End - $6.666 million
Running Back - $6.323 million
Linebacker - $5.95 million
Defensive Tackle - $5.134 million
Safety - $4.968 million
Tight End - $2.687 million
Kicker/Punter - $1.787 million

These numbers were released by the NFLPA.