2003 NFL Free Agent Watch
Free Agency Terms and Definitions
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 the Top
|Top 10 Unrestricted Free Agents|
1. Daryl Gardener, DT, Redskins|
2. David Boston, WR, Cardinals
3. Takeo Spikes, LB, Bengals
4. Olandis Gary, RB, Broncos
5. Vonnie Holliday, DE, Packers
6. Chris McAlister, CB, Ravens
7. Peerless Price, WR, Bills
8. Lee Flowers, S, Steelers
9. Hugh Douglas, DE, Eagles
10. Tebucky Jones, S, Patriots
|Top 10 Restricted Free Agents|
1. Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, DE, Packers|
2. Darwin Walker, DT, Eagles
3. Kendrick Clancy, DT, Steelers
4. Brandon Short, LB, Giants
5. Leonardon Carson, DT, Chargers
6. Chad Morton, KR, Jets
7. Na'il Diggs, LB, Packers
8. Mike Brown, S, Bears
9. Chris Bober, C, Giants
10. Rian Lindell, K, Seahawks