The new league year for the NFL begins on March 18th, and teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers still have plenty of work to do to be in compliance with the salary cap before the new league year begins.
One of the items on the Steelers’ long to-do list is to figure out how to handle the team’s Restricted Free Agents (RFA). What makes an RFA different from an Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA)?
Let us explain...
Restricted free agent (RFA): A player with three accrued seasons and an expired contract. RFAs are free to negotiate and sign with any team, but their original team can offer them one of various qualifying offers (“tenders”) that come with the Right of First Refusal and/or draft-pick compensation. These amounts change by a minimum of 5 percent and a maximum of 10 percent (based on the salary cap) each League Year. Tenders are classified as follows:
First-round tender: If the player’s original team decides not to match an offer sheet signed with another team, it is entitled to a first-round draft pick from his new team.
Second-round tender: If the player’s original team decides not to match an offer sheet signed with another team, it is entitled to a second-round pick from his new team.
Original-round tender: If the player’s original team decides not to match an offer sheet signed with another team, it is entitled to a pick in the round the player was originally drafted in.
Right-of-first-refusal tender: Team has the right to match any offer sheet signed with another team, but there is no draft compensation tied to this tender.
The Steelers have decisions to make on two players who are RFAs, Mike Hilton and Matt Feiler. Both are considered starters, and valuable members of the team, so a tender is expected for both players.
As for Hilton, ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting the team plans on placing a second round tender on Hilton.
Steelers’ CB Mike Hilton will receive a 2nd-round tender, per @RosenhausSports.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 18, 2020
If this does come to fruition for the former Ole Miss defensive back, it would mean a hefty pay raise for Hilton. With a second round tender, players are expected to make roughly $3.27 million for the year of service. Quite the pay day for Hilton.
This is a great situation for both player and organization. If another team wants to give Hilton a big money deal, the Steelers will be awarded a second round pick. And when you have a team with such little draft capital, it would be a welcome addition to their overall draft haul. Of course, the Steelers could match the contract offer and avoid the pick altogether.
If not team comes calling, the Steelers keep Hilton in the fold for what they hope for is a memorable 2020 run at a title.
Hilton seems to be locked up for now, but that still leaves Feiler. Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for Free Agency, and the 2020 NFL Draft in just over a month.
The Steelers are now planning on placing a 2nd round tender on Matt Feiler as well. Seems they have their RFAs locked up just in time.