NEW YORK (March 2, 2007) -- The National Football League announced that 448 players are free agents who now can negotiate with all 32 clubs.
The free agents include six players who this year were designated by their clubs as non-exclusive "franchise" players. A franchise player is a special category for restricted and unrestricted free agents. The deadline for making these designations for 2007 was Feb. 22.
|2007 FRANCHISE PLAYER DESIGNATIONS
|* Exclusive franchise player
There are two types of franchise players. Clubs retain exclusive negotiating rights to an "exclusive" franchise player by committing to a minimum offer of the average of the top five salaries at the player's position as of the end of the restricted free agent signing period on April 20, or a 20 percent increase over his 2006 salary, or the average of the top five salaries at his position as of the end of last season -- whichever of the three is greater. Other clubs cannot negotiate with exclusive franchise players. The Indianapolis Colts named defensive end Dwight Freeney as an exclusive franchise player this year.
The second type of franchise player is offered a minimum of the average of the top five salaries at his position in the 2006 season, or a 20 percent salary increase, whichever is greater. This type of franchise player may negotiate with other clubs. His original club may match the offer and retain the player, or receive two first-round draft choices as compensation if the original club elects not to match.
Each club is permitted one franchise designation in any year of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. If a franchise player signs a multiyear contract with his current club between Feb. 22 and July 16, the club retains its franchise player designation for the following league year. After July 16, any contract signed by a franchise player can only be for one year.
Also, a club may designate a transition player in lieu of a franchise player in any year when the franchise designation is available. A transition player designation gives the club a first-refusal right to match an offer sheet given to the player by another club. To designate a transition player, the club must offer a minimum of the average of the top 10 salaries of 2006 at the player's position, or a 20 percent salary increase, whichever is greater. No transition players were named for 2007.
In the event a player retires, suffers a career-ending injury or is otherwise unavailable due to non-football circumstances, a club has the right to designate another franchise or transition player.
A club may withdraw a franchise or transition designation at any time. The player becomes an unrestricted free agent when that withdrawal occurs, and the team can use one of the designations on another player at the appropriate time.
Unrestricted veteran free agents are players who have completed four or more accrued seasons of service and whose contracts have expired. They are free to sign with any club through July 22 (or the first scheduled day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is later). On July 23, their exclusive rights will revert to their original club if that club made a June 1 tender to these players. Teams will have until the Tuesday after the 10th week of the season (Nov. 13) to sign their unrestricted veteran free agents to whom a tender was made on June 1. If the player does not sign by Nov. 13, he must continue to sit out the remainder of the season. If a June 1 tender is not made to an unrestricted free agent, he continues to be free to sign with any club.
Restricted free agents are players who have completed three accrued seasons of service and whose contracts have expired. They have received qualifying offers from their old clubs and are free to negotiate with any club until April 20, at which time their rights revert to their original club. If a player accepts an offer from a new club, the old club will have the right to match the offer and retain the player. If the old club elects not to match the offer, it may receive draft-choice compensation depending on the level of the qualifying offer made to the player.
The signing period for unrestricted free agents began March 2 and concludes on July 22 (or the first scheduled day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is later). The signing period for restricted free agents also began March 2 but concludes on April 20.