Just over 24 hours until the free agency period hits and players across the NFL get dealt new contracts with teams.
The salary cap has been set at $177.2 million and there are a lot of buyers on the market right now. Throughout the day, expect to see tons of deals coming into fruition and players finding their new homes.
Here are some things you need to know for free agency from the NFL Communications department:
Start time: Players, owners and teams may start locking down deals starting at 4:00 p.m. ET, Wednesday, March 14. Restricted free agents have the window from March 14 to April 20 to get signed, and unrestricted agents could land their destination from March 14 through July 23. For players who get a franchise label, it will be from March until November 13, or the Tuesday following week 10 of the regular season.
Categories: Players are put into two categories: restricted free agents or unrestricted free agents. While a restricted free agent could receive a qualifying offer, both restricted or unrestricted free agents could be put up as a franchise player or transition player.
“In the 2018 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 2017 league year on March 14. Unrestricted free agents have completed four or more accrued seasons. Upon expiration of his 2017 contract, an unrestricted free agent is free to sign with any club with no draft choice compensation owed to his old club,” per the NFL.
An accrued season would count as six or more regular season games on a team’s active or inactive, reserve or injured, and reserve or physically unable to perform lists.
Franchise players: There are two types of franchise players: exclusive or non-exclusive.
With exclusive franchise players, the player is not available to sign with another club and gets among the top five salaries at the position for the current year after the end of its term. An exclusive franchise player might also get the amount for a non-exclusive franchise player, as shown below by the NFL:
“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 . . . .”
So if a team wants to offer a required tender to a non-exclusive franchise player, the individual could negotiate a different contract.
More on franchise players: Teams could hold one franchise player or one transition player in its potential restricted or unrestricted free agents.
Teams can choose to not use its franchise or transition designation, which would place the player as an unrestricted free agent.
Salary cap: Teams have to abide by the salary cap rules starting with the 2018 season, which is 4:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 14.
If a team is under the salary cap, they can carry over the cap space from one season to the next with proper notice. A team may carry over all its remaining cap space from 2017 to 2018.
For more information, NFLCommunications.com.