NFL Free Agency
1. UFA: players with 4 or more seasons (6+ games on active/inactive/IR/reserve/PUP), whose contracts have expired, can negotiate with any club. No compensation if player signs with another club.
2. RFA: players can negotiate with other clubs, but the former club has the right to match any offer. If the former club does not match the offer, they are compensated with draft picks.
3. Franchise tag: one year deal that pays UFA 120% of their previous contract or the average of the 5 highest paid players at their position, whichever is greater. There are two types: non- exclusive (can negotiate with other clubs, but gives the former club right to match offer or two first round draft picks if they decline to match) and exclusive (can’t negotiate with other clubs)
4. Transition tag: similar to non-exclusive franchise tag but less expensive and no compensation if club refuses to match offer.
B. Why doesn’t the former team resign the player, instead of allowing him to try free agency?
1. Former team (who knows the player the best) thinks the player is not worth the money.–Probably the most common reason
a. Team doesn’t want the player because he doesn’t have the talent, is injury prone or is a "cancer" in the locker-room.
b. Player wants too much money
c. Former team has a less expensive player who can do the same job.
d. Former team believes a player can be replaced at a lower cost. 2. Former team has not managed their salary cap well and can’t afford the player.
C. Which players declare for free agency?
1. Players looking for a big payday. – most common reason
2. Players wanting to change playing circumstances.
a. Wants more playing time, starter instead of back-up, etc.
b. Wants to play with certain other players or coaches
c. 3-4 instead of 4-3 defense, etc.
3. Player wants to change living conditions.
a. Closer to family
b. Large city vs small, etc.
1. Adding a new player, whether through draft or free agency is a crap shoot at best.
2. Most free agents will be paid more than they are worth.
3. Team FO and owners are human and make decisions based on emotions and not necessarily in the best interest of the team success.
4. Free agent players were not signed/wanted by the team who knows the player best.
5. Player’s agents want to make the most money (for themselves) and don’t really care about anything else.
6. Most often FA sign with the first team they visit.
7. Players who visit a lot of teams during the FA signing period may be damaged goods (want extreme money, have injury or have lost talent).
8. Some FA players are not interested in signing with some teams (can’t assume all the players you want are willing to come to your team).
E. The Annual Spring Circus of NFL Free Agency For the past few weeks, player’s agents have been talking with various FOs . Scouts have been evaluating hundreds of potential free agents and draft choices. In the distant past, FA might visit as many as 10 teams and take a few weeks to decide which team to join. Now agents will steer the player to the team that they believe will pay the player the most (more $ to the agent). Most "top" FAs will be signed in the first few days. Some general managers will panic. Some "value" middle and lower tier players can be found after the initial feeding frenzy.
E. Rules for Success
1. Don’t over pay for past success. Just because he used to be great, doesn’t mean he will be in the future.
2. Try to limit guaranteed money, to maintain the ability to fix mistakes.
3. If considering players over 30yo, greatly limit guaranteed money and length of contract.
4. It doesn’t matter what draft selection the player was or how much he has already been paid. The only thing that matters is his future value to the team.
5. Be careful of players that have their best year right before free agency.
Sorry about the long post, but I hope it inspires discussion.