NFL Free Agency



During NFL free agency a player who is a restricted free agent who has played 3 years can receive a "qualifying offer" from his team. He can negotiate with any team up until a certain date.

If the restricted free agent accepts an offer from another team, his old team has the "Right of First Refusal", a seven day period in which to match the offer and retain their player, or if they choose not to match the offer, the old team may receive one or more draft picks for the upcoming draft from the players new team.

If a player does not receive an offer, that player's right revert back to his old team the day after negotiations ends during NFL free agency.

Players who have played three years in the NFL as of 2010.


The player's original team maintains the First Refusal Right if the team tenders a contract offer of one year at $1.101 Million.

The player's original team maintains the Right of First Refusal and Draft Selection at the Player’s Original Draft Round (from the team in which he signs with) if the team tenders an offer of one year at $1.101 million or at least 110% of the player’s prior year’s salary -- whichever is greater.

The player's original team maintains the Right of First Refusal and Second Round Draft Selection (from the team in which he signs with) if the team tenders an offer of one year at $1.684 million or at least 110% of the player’s prior year’s salary -- whichever is greater.

The player's original team maintains the Right of First Refusal and First Round Draft Selection (from the team in which he signs with) if the team tenders an offer of one year at $2.396 million or at least 110% of the player’s prior year’s salary -- whichever is greater.

The player's original team maintains the Right of First Refusal and First Round Draft Selection and Third Round Draft Selection (both from the team in which he signs withif the team tenders an offer of one year at $3.043 million or at least 110% of the player's prior year’s salary -- whichever is greater.

NFL Free Agency Examples of Restricted Free Agency Outcomes


In addition to the following outcomes, if a player does not receive an offer sheet from his original team, he becomes an unrestricted NFL free agent.

If a player signs the offer sheet from his original team, he remains with that team.

Team declining to match offer sheet. Carolina Panthers corner back Ricky Manning Jr. was a restricted free agent in the 2006 off season.

Based on the tender placed on Manning by the Panthers, the team would receive a third-round pick in the NFL Draft if Manning signed with another team.

On April 21, the Chicago Bears signed Manning to an offer sheet - a five-year contract worth up to $23 million.

Although the Panthers had a full week to decide if they wanted to match the offer sheet, they announced on April 24 that they would not match.

At this time, Manning became a member of the Bears and the Panthers received a third-round draft choice in the 2006 draft from Chicago.

Team matching offer sheet. Arizona Cardinals offensive guard Reggie Wells was a restricted free agent in the 2006 off season.

On March 17, the Buffalo Bills signed him to an offer sheet - a five-year deal worth approximately $18 million. Four days later on March 21, the Cardinals matched the Bills' offer sheet for Wells, and he reverted to the Arizona Cardinals.

Team consummating a trade. The Miami Dolphins offered wide receiver Wes Welker a second-round tender in 2007.

Although it was widely rumored that the New England Patriots would offer Welker a seven-year, $35 million deal, the Patriots ultimately traded their second- and seventh-round draft picks to the Dolphins for Welker, signing Welker to a five-year, $18 million contract.

Most of the time players who are restricted free agents rarely change teams during restricted NFL free agency.

This type of NFL free agency helps the franchises know the how much the players are worth and helps the players know what they are worth during this period of free agency.