FanPost

The Words of Free Agency Defined




Yesterday I did a post on Free Agents and possible solutions to the Steelers' roster needs. In the post I mention terms such as Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA) and Restricted Free Agent (RFA). It occurred to me that these terms might be foreign gibberish to some people and even if it wasn't many do not know how Free Agency and these work together. This post will outline the key terms in Free Agency and who the Steelers Free Agents are at the end with an example.

The terms in Free Agency that are commonly used are; Unrestricted Free Agent, Restricted Free Agent, Exclusive Rights Free Agent, Franchise Tag, and the Transition Tag. I will start with the simplest one the Unrestricted Free Agent.

-Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA)-

An Unrestricted free Agent is a player that shall be completely free to negotiate and sign a Player Contract with any Club, and any Club shall be completely free to negotiate and sign a Player Contract with such player, without penalty or restriction, including, but not limited to, Draft Choice Compensation between Clubs or First Refusal Rights of any kind.

This means that a player can talk with any team about signing and any team can sign him. It is the players choice that is simple to understand right?

-Restricted Free Agent (RFA)-

A Restricted Free Agent get a little more complicated with how they work because of this I am not going to quote the actual legalese.

A Restricted Free Agent is a veteran play with three to four accrued season that contract is expired. The player is allowed to sign with any club but with restrictions. See the players original club has some helpful tool at their disposal.

  • They have the First Right of Refusal basically the original club has the chance to match or better that offer. This tool is used if the club offers a deal to the player that is greater or equal to one year at, $1.01M or at least 110% of the player salary in prior year which every is greater.
  • The club can also use Draft Choice Compensation (not an actual term but it kind of describes it the best). The first of these tenders is the Original Draft Round Compensation Tender which gives the original club a draft pick from the club that signs the player which is the original draft round of the player . This is used if the original club offers a contract the the player that is one year at, $1.01M or 110% salary of the final year of the player's contract, which every is greater. Basically if a team offers a contract at one year $1.01M or 110% of the final year salary to the player the original club has First Right of Refusal and Original Draft Round Compensation. There are a couple more tools used in RFA contract control.
  • Second Round Compensation, as this sounds if another team signs the RFA the original club gets the second round pick of the team. This is used by the team offering a contract to the RFA that is one year and either $1.545M or at least 110% of the RFA salary in the final year of the contract which ever is greater.Basically if a team offers a contract at one year $1.545M or at least 110% of the final year salary to the player the original club has First Right of Refusal and Second Round Compensation.
  • First Round Compensation, as this sounds if another team signs the RFA the original club receives a first round pick from that team. This is used by offering a contract of one year $2.198M or at least 110% of the player salary in the final year of the contract which ever is greater.
  • First and Third Round Compensation, I think you got it so won't explain it. This is used by offering a contract that is one year $2.792M or at least 110% of the players salary in the final year of the players contract.

If the original club does not offer a tender then the RFA becomes a UFA.

-Exclusive Rights Free Agent (ERFA)-

If a player has no more then two accrued seasons then they can be an Exclusive Rights Free Agent. This means they player can not talk to any other team about a contract as long as the original club has offered a qualifying contract. A qualifying Contract is the veteran minimum for that player. So last year it was $375,000 for rookies, $450,000 for player with one accrued season and $525,000 for players with 2 accrued seasons.

There are two more tools a organization has to keep their players.

-The Franchise Tag-

One player may be designated a Franchise Player a year. Most people don't know that there are two types of Franchise Tags, Exclusive and Nonexclusive Franchise Tags.

Exclusive Franchise Tag-

The original club is the only club that is able to negotiate further contract talk for that year. If designated the player receives a one year contract with a salary of the average of the top five salaries at the position that year. (Calculated after the Free Agency period) or 120% of the players prior year salary, which every is greater.

Nonexclusive Franchise Tag-

This means the player has the right to talk with any club about a contract. However two First Round Draft Choices will be award to the original club if the player signs with another team. The team must tender the player a one year contract of the five largest salaries at the position of the prior year or 120% of the players prior year salary, which ever is greater.

-Transition Tag-

A team can use the Transition Tag on one player every year. It can be used with the Franchise Tag. The Club Receives Right of First Refusal of the player that is tagged. to use this the team must tender the player a one year contract with a salary that is the average of the ten largest of the year prior year at the position or 120% of the prior years contract, which ever is greater.

That was a lot of information wasn't it. Now lets look at the Steelers Free Agents as provided by Steelers.com.

- Unrestricted Free Agents-

Quarterbacks:

Charlie Batch

Byron Leftwich

Dennis Dixon

Running Backs:

Mewelde Moore

Wide Receivers:

Jerricho Cotchery

Defensive Linemen:

Chris Hoke

Conerbacks:

William Gay

Anthony Madison

Specialists:

Daniel Sepulveda


Offensive Line:

Max Starks

Trai Essex


- Restricted Free Agents-

Tight Ends:

David Johnson

Wide Receivers:

Mike Wallace

Offensive Linemen:

Ramon Foster

Doug Legursky

Jamon Meredith

Defensive Backs:

Keenan Lewis

Ryan Mundy

-Exclusive Rights Free Agents-

Running Back:

Isaac Redmen

Defensive Linemen:

Steve McLendon

Specialists:

Jeremy Kapinos

Mike Wallace as an Example-

Mike Wallace is an RFA whose salary for 2011 was $710,168.00.

  • To tender Wallace with a First and a Third round compensation it would cost the Steelers $2.792M because that amount is greater than 110% of Wallace's 2011 salary. ($781,184.80). It would also mean that should Wallace sign with another team they would receive that teams 1st and 3rd round pick in the 2012 draft.
  • To tender Wallace with a Non Exclusive Farnchise Tag it would cost the Steelers $9.675M base off the top five salaries of WR last year. (L. Fitzgerald, Ca. Johnson, S. Smith, B. Marshall and A. Boldin. You can thank Fitzgeralds $20M base salary for driving up that number.) If Wallace signed with another team the other team would give the Steelers their 1st round pick in 2012 and 2013.
  • If the Steelers do not offer a tender to Wallace he would become a Unrestricted Free Agent. Mike Wallace can also choose to not sign the tender and would not be subjected to a fined (not technically a holdout) but would lose a accrued season. He would also just not get paid and is allowed no where near a team's facilities.

There are a couple of other things such as compensation to original club for UFA that have signed with another team and contributed or incentives such as playoffs, Pro Bowl carrying over but I don't want to get into that. I hope this helps and that now after this you understand when you here something like, " The Steelers have tendered their Restricted Free Agent WR, Mike Wallace with a First and Third round tender."








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