Confused About Restricted Free-Agency And "Tenders"?

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Confused About Restricted Free-Agency And

If you're a fan of the NFL, as I am, you've been hearing a lot the past few days about "tenders" that NFL teams have been making to their restricted free agents. You'll hear that the Denver Broncos have made a "first round tender" to Brandon Marshall, and that the Chargers have made a "first and third round tender" to running back Darren Sproles. You may have been wondering exactly what these terms mean.

A "restricted free agent" for 2010 is a player whose contract has expired and who has completed three, four, or five NFL seasons. A player with an expired contract and six or more seasons under their belts is TRULY a free agent, as he is entitled to negotiate the best deal he can find with any interested team and his former team has no ability to hinder his career move or to demand any compensation from the player's new team.

A restricted free agent can negotiate a new contract with any interested team, but his old team can maintain a "right of refusal" to re-sign the player by matching the other team's written offer, or the old team may be entitled to compensation in the form of draft choices if they choose not to match the other team's written offer. In order to preserve these "rights of first refusal" and the right to draft choice compensation, the player's old team must first "tender" to the restricted free agent a qualifying offer. The NFL's collective bargaining agreement (CBA) sets the salary levels a team's tender offer must meet in order to trigger the various levels of draft choice compensation. The higher the salary level in the tendered offer, the more compensation a team is entitled to receive from another team who signs the player away from them.

After some digging around, I finally located the following data regarding the dollar thresholds for tender offers for 2010 at nfllabor.com. Note that the numbers (including the number of years required) are different in 2010 than in previous years due to the unusual circumstance that the CBA is expiring.

Q. What are the different levels of tender offers to this year’s class of Restricted Free Agents and their associated levels of draft choice compensation?

A. Below is a breakdown of the tender offers, listed by number of accrued seasons, for Restricted Free Agents in 2010.

Player with THREE Accrued Seasons

Right of First Refusal — $1,101,000
Right of First Refusal + Pick in player’s original draft round — $1,101,000*
Right of First Refusal + Second-Round Draft Pick — $1,684,000*
Right of First Refusal + First-Round Draft Pick — $2,396,000*
Right of First Refusal + First- AND Third-Round Draft Picks — $3,043,000*

*or 110% of player’s 2009 Paragraph 5 Salary, whichever is greater

Player with FOUR Accrued Seasons

Right of First Refusal — $1,176,000
Right of First Refusal + Pick in player’s original draft round — $1,176,000*
Right of First Refusal + Second-Round Draft Pick — $1,759,000*
Right of First Refusal + First-Round Draft Pick — $2,521,000*
Right of First Refusal + First- AND Third-Round Draft Picks — $3,168,000*

*or 110% of player’s 2009 Paragraph 5 Salary, whichever is greater

Player with FIVE Accrued Seasons

Right of First Refusal — $1,226,000
Right of First Refusal + Pick in player’s original draft round — $1,226,000*
Right of First Refusal + Second-Round Draft Pick — $1,809,000*
Right of First Refusal + First-Round Draft Pick — $2,621,000*
Right of First Refusal + First- AND Third-Round Draft Picks — $3,268,000*

*or 110% of player’s 2009 Paragraph 5 Salary, whichever is greater

Having found the above information, I find it a lot easier to understand all the chatter about the impending free agency period, and I hope this is helpful to you too!

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