FREE AGENCY QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
SALARY CAP SET AT $167 MILLION
When does the 2017 free agency signing period begin?
At 4:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 9.
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 subject to a
“qualifying offer.” A restricted or
unrestricted free agent may be designated by his prior club as its franchise
player or transition player.
Q. What is the time
period for free agency signings this year?
A. For restricted free
agents, from March 9 to April 21. For unrestricted free agents
who have received the May 9 tender from their prior club, from March 9 to July
22 (or the first scheduled day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is
later). For franchise players, from March 9 until the Tuesday following
the 10th week of the regular season, November 14. No players were designated
as transition players this year. If
the above-listed players do not sign by November 14, they must sit out the
Q. What is the
difference between a restricted free agent and an unrestricted free agent?
A. In the 2017 league year, players with
three accrued seasons who have received a qualifying offer become restricted
free agents when their contracts expire at the conclusion of the 2016 league
year. Unrestricted free agents have completed four or more accrued
seasons. An unrestricted free agent is free to sign with any club with no
draft choice compensation owed to his old club.
Q. What constitutes an
A. Six or more
regular-season games on a club's active/inactive, reserved/injured or
reserve/physically unable to perform lists.
Q. What could restrict
the ability of a restricted free agent to sign with a new club?
A. If he has received
a “qualifying offer” (a salary tender predetermined by the Collective
Bargaining Agreement between the league and its players) from his old club.
He can negotiate with any club through April 21. If the restricted free
agent signs an offer sheet with a new club, his old club can match the offer
and retain him because the qualifying offer entitles it to a “right of first
refusal” on any offer sheet the player signs. If the old club does not
match the offer, it may receive draft choice compensation depending on the
amount of its qualifying offer. If an offer sheet is not executed on or
before April 21, the player’s negotiating rights revert exclusively to his old
club. In addition, a player who would
otherwise be a restricted free agent may be designated by his old club as its
franchise player or transition player.
Q. What determines an
unrestricted free agent?
A. A player with four
or more accrued seasons whose contract has expired. He is free to sign
with any club, with no draft choice 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 negotiating rights revert exclusively to
his old club if by May 9 the old club tendered the player a one-year contract
for 110 percent of his prior year’s salary.
His old club then has until the Tuesday following the 10th week of the
regular season (November 14) to sign him. If he does not sign by that
date, he must sit out the season. If no tender is offered by May 9, the
player can be signed by any club at any time throughout the season.
Q. What determines a
The salary offer by a player’s club determines what type of franchise player he
An “exclusive” franchise player
– not free to sign with another club – is offered the greater of (i) the
average of the top five salaries at the player's position for the current
year as of the end of the restricted free agent signing period on April 21; or
(ii) the amount of the required tender for a non-exclusive franchise player, as
10, Section 2(a)(i) of the CBA sets forth the methodology, known as the “Cap
Percentage Average,” for calculating the required tender for a non-exclusive
The Nonexclusive Franchise Tender shall
be a one year NFL Player Contract for (A) the average of
the five largest Prior Year Salaries for players at the position . . . at which
the Franchise Player participated in the most plays during the prior League
Year, which average shall be calculated by: (1) summing the amounts of the
Franchise Tags for players at that position for the five preceding League
Years; (2) dividing the resulting amount by the sum of the Salary Caps for the
five preceding League Years . . . ; and (3) multiplying the resulting
percentage by the Salary Cap for the upcoming League Year . . . (the “Cap
Percentage Average”) . . . ; or (B) 120% of his Prior Year Salary, whichever is
greater . . . .
If a club extends a required tender to
a “non-exclusive” franchise player pursuant to this section, the player
shall be permitted to negotiate a player contract with any club, except that
draft choice compensation of two first-round draft selections shall be made in
the event he signs with a new club.
Q. How many franchise
players and transition players can a team designate each season?
A club can designate one franchise player or one transition
player among its potential restricted or unrestricted
Q. Can a club decide
to withdraw its franchise or transition designation on a player?
A. Yes. A club can withdraw its franchise or
transition designation, and the player then automatically becomes an
unrestricted free agent, either immediately if the tender is withdrawn after
the start of the 2017 league year, or when his 2016 contract expires if the
tender is withdrawn before the start of the 2017 league year.
What is the salary cap for 2017?
A. The salary cap is $167 million per club.
When must teams be in compliance with the salary cap?
A. At the start of the 2017 league year, which
begins at 4:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, March
If a team is under the salary cap at the end of a given season, can the
team “carry over” room to the next season?
A. Yes. A
team may carry over room from one league year to the following league year by
submitting notice to the NFL prior to 4:00 p.m. ET on the day following the
team’s final regular-season game, indicating the amount of room that the club
wishes to carry over.
What is the maximum amount of room that a club can carry over?
A. One hundred percent of its remaining room.