A lot of teams will be hit hard by expiring contracts this upcoming offseason, though the Miami Dolphins don't look to be one of them.
Rather than provide any analysis or predictions on whether each Miami's free agents should or will be re-signed, I'm simply going to be listing them here and defining each type of free agent. Analysis will come later in the offseason.
As you probably know by now, the status of a Collective Bargaining Agreement in the league impacts what type of free agent certain players will be, but since there is currently not a new one in place, this article assumes there will not be one.
First, here are the different types of free agents and their definitions:
- Unrestricted Free Agents —Players with expiring contracts with at least six years of NFL service. A year of service in this case refers to any season with at least nine games on the active 53-man roster. These players are free to sign with any team once the free agent signing period begins in March.
- Restricted Free Agents —Players with expiring contracts with three to five years of NFL service. Players are tendered one-year contract offers by their team at one of four salary amounts, which can be signed by the player at any time. Other teams are free to make offers on these players, but the player's old team is free to match any offer and retain the player's services. If another team signs a RFA and the old team does not match, the old team gets draft pick compensation determined by the level of the original tender (either a first- and third-round pick, a first-round pick, a second-round pick, or a pick from the round in which the player was originally drafted).
- Exclusive Rights Free Agents —Players with expiring contracts with zero to two years of NFL service. Old teams have the option of tendering a one-year contract offers to such a player, and the player must re-sign with their team or not play in the NFL.
Now, here are the Dolphins' free agents in 2010:
Unrestricted Free Agents
- NT Jason Ferguson
- CB Nathan Jones
- QB Chad Pennington
- OLB Jason Taylor
Restricted Free Agents
- TE Anthony Fasano
- OLB Quentin Moses
Exclusive-Rights Free Agents
- WR Davone Bess
- K Dan Carpenter
- TE Joey Haynos
You might notice running back Ronnie Brown is absent from this list. That is because he will not be a free agent this offseason if there is no new CBA, despite what many media reports have said.
When negotiating Brown's contract, the Dolphins put in a sixth year of the deal that would kick in if there was no new CBA. That is because, if Brown's deal expired after five years without a new CBA, he would only be a restricted free agent.
Instead, having to tender Brown and re-sign him to a one-year deal, the team and Brown simply opted to add this year to the contract to avoid that process.
It should be noted that, with a new CBA, unrestricted free agents are players with four years of NFL service (as opposed to six with no new CBA).
That means if there is a new CBA, Brown (with five years of NFL service) will be an unrestricted free agent.
But for now, there is no new CBA and Brown is projected to be under contract with the Dolphins in 2010.