2019 NFL FREE
AGENCY QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
SALARY CAP SET AT $188.2 MILLION
When does the 2019 free agency signing period begin?
At 4:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 13.
Q. When does the
two-day negotiating period for potential unrestricted free agents begin?
A. At 12:00 p.m. ET on Monday,
March 11 until 3:59:59 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 13, clubs are permitted to
contact and enter into contract negotiations with the certified agents of players who will become unrestricted
free agents upon expiration of their 2018
player contracts at 4:00 p.m. ET on March 13.
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 13 to April 19. For unrestricted free
agents who have received the May 7
tender from their prior club, from March 13
to July 22 (or
the first scheduled day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is
later). For franchise players, from March 13 until the Tuesday following
10 of the
regular season, November 12.
For transition players, from March 13 until July 22. After July 22 and until 4 p.m. ET on the
Tuesday following Week 10 of the regular season, November 12, the prior club
has exclusive negotiating rights to unrestricted free agents and transition
players. If the
above-listed players do not sign by November 12,
they must sit out the season.
Q. What is the
difference between a restricted free agent and an unrestricted free agent?
A. In the 2019 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 2018 league year on March 13. Unrestricted free
agents have completed four or more accrued seasons. Upon expiration
of his 2018 contract, 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, reserve/injured or
reserve/physically unable to perform lists.
Q. How do the free
agency rules apply to restricted free agents?
A. If a player with three accrued seasons 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 19.
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 19,
the player’s negotiating rights revert exclusively to his old club. In addition, prior to the start of free agency a player who would otherwise
be a restricted free agent may be designated by his old club as its franchise
player or transition player.
What are the right of first refusal/qualifying offer
amounts for players who have completed three accrued seasons?
A. For right of
first refusal only, a one-year salary of at least $2,025,000.
For right of
first refusal and compensation at the player’s original draft round, a one-year
salary of at least $2,025,000 or 110 percent of the 2018 Paragraph 5 salary,
whichever is greater.
For right of
first refusal and compensation of one second-round draft selection, a one-year
salary of at least $3,095,000 or 110 percent of the 2018 Paragraph 5 salary,
whichever is greater.
For right of
first refusal and compensation of one first-round draft selection, a one-year
salary of at least $4,407,000 or 110 percent of the 2018 Paragraph 5 salary,
whichever is greater.
For right of
first refusal and compensation of only one first-round draft selection, but any
provision in the new club’s offer sheet waiving or limiting the new club’s
ability to designate the player as a franchise or transition player is not a
principal term and need not be matched by the prior club, a one-year salary of
at least $4,907,000 or 110 percent of the 2018 Paragraph 5 salary, whichever is
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 7
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 Week 10 of the regular season (November 12) to sign him. If he
does not sign by that date, he must sit out the season. If no tender is
offered by May 7, 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
or non-exclusive. 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 19; or (ii) the amount of the required
tender for a non-exclusive franchise player, as explained below. Article 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 .
. . .
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?
club can designate one franchise player or one transition player among its
potential restricted or unrestricted free
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 2019
league year, or when his 2018
contract expires if the tender is withdrawn before the start of the 2019 league year.
What is the salary cap for 2019?
A. The salary cap is $188,200,000 per club.
When must teams be in compliance with the salary cap?
A. At the start of the 2019 league year, which begins at 4:00 p.m.
ET on Wednesday, 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. A club can carry over 100 percent of
its remaining 2018 room
to its adjusted salary cap for 2019.