2015 NFL Free Agency Diary

  • 2016 NFL Free Agency Q & A

    If you have any questions about how free agency works, what the different tenders are and/or what they mean we have you covered.



    SALARY CAP SET AT $155,270,000

    When does the 2016 free agency signing period begin?

    At 4:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 9.


    What are the categories of free agency?

    Players are either “restricted free agents” or “unrestricted free agents.”  A restricted free agent may be subject to a “qualifying offer.”  A restricted or unrestricted free agent may be designated by his prior club as its franchise player or transition player.

    What is the time period for free agency signings this year?

    For restricted free agents, from March 9 to April 22.  For unrestricted free agents who have received the May 10 tender from their prior club, from March 9 to July 22 (or the first scheduled day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is later).  For franchise players, from March 9 until the Tuesday following the 10th week of the regular season, November 15.  For transition players, from March 9 until July 22.  If the above-listed players do not sign by November 15, they must sit out the season.

    What is the difference between a restricted free agent and an unrestricted free agent?

    In the 2016 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 2015 league year.  Unrestricted free agents have completed four or more accrued seasons.  An unrestricted free agent is free to sign with any club with no draft choice compensation owed to his old club.

    What constitutes an “accrued season”?

    Six or more regular-season games on a club's active/inactive, reserved/injured or reserve/physically unable to perform lists.

    What could restrict the ability of a restricted free agent to sign with a new club? 

    If he has received a “qualifying offer” (a salary tender predetermined by the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and its players) from his old club.  He can negotiate with any club through April 22.  If the restricted free agent signs an offer sheet with a new club, his old club can match the offer and retain him because the qualifying offer entitles it to a “right of first refusal” on any offer sheet the player signs.  If the old club does not match the offer, it may receive draft choice compensation depending on the amount of its qualifying offer.  If an offer sheet is not executed on or before April 22, the player’s negotiating rights revert exclusively to his old club.  In addition, a player who would otherwise be a restricted free agent may be designated by his old club as its franchise player or transition player.

    What determines an unrestricted free agent?

    A player with four or more accrued seasons whose contract has expired.  He is free to sign with any club, with no draft choice compensation owed to his old club, through July 22 (or the first scheduled day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is later).  At that point, his negotiating rights revert exclusively to his old club if by May 10 the old club tendered the player a one-year contract for 110 percent of his prior year’s salary.  His old club then has until the Tuesday following the 10th week of the regular season (November 15) to sign him.  If he does not sign by that date, he must sit out the season.  If no tender is offered by May 10, the player can be signed by any club at any time throughout the season.

    What determines a franchise player?

    The salary offer by a player’s club determines what type of franchise player he is: exclusive or non-exclusive.

    An “exclusive” Franchise Player – not free to sign with another club – is offered the greater of (i) the average of the top five salaries at the player's position for the current year as of the end of the restricted free agent signing period on April 22; or (ii) the amount of the required tender for a non-exclusive franchise player, as explained below.

    Article 10, Section 2(a)(i) of the CBA sets forth the methodology, known as the “Cap Percentage Average,” for calculating the required tender for a non-exclusive franchise player:

    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 . . . .

    If a club extends a required tender to a “non-exclusive” franchise player pursuant to this section, the player shall be permitted to negotiate a player contract with any club, except that draft choice compensation of two first-round draft selections shall be made in the event he signs with a new club.

    How many franchise players and transition players can a team designate each season?

    A club can designate one franchise player or one transition player among its potential restricted or unrestricted free agents.

    Can a club decide to withdraw its franchise or transition designation on a player?

    Yes.  A club can withdraw its franchise or transition designation, and the player then automatically becomes an unrestricted free agent, either immediately if the tender is withdrawn after the start of the 2016 league year, or when his 2015 contract expires if the tender is withdrawn before the start of the 2016 league year. 

    What is the salary cap for 2016?

    The salary cap is $155,270,000 per club.

    When must teams be in compliance with the salary cap?

    At the start of the 2016 league year, which begins at 4:00 p.m. ET on March 9.

    If a team is under the salary cap at the end of a given season, can the team “carry over” room to the next season?

    Yes.  A team may carry over room from one league year to the following league year by submitting notice to the NFL prior to 4:00 p.m. ET on the day following the team’s final regular-season game, indicating the amount of room that the club wishes to carry over.

    What is the maximum amount of room that a club can carry over?

    One hundred percent of its remaining room.
  • Colts, Seahawks, Packers QB Matt Hasselbeck Retires

    After an 18-year NFL career, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has announced that he's retiring from the game of football.

    “As a kid, playing in the NFL was always my dream and it turned out to be way more fun that I could’ve ever imagined,” Hasselbeck said in an ESPN release. “Throughout 18 incredible seasons, I had the chance to forge many relationships with teammates, coaches and staff that I will cherish forever.

    “With the support of my family, we’ve made the decision to embark on the next chapter.”

    The next chapter of Hasselbeck's life will be on television, as he's signed a deal to join ESPN as a studio analyst.

    “The exceptional opportunity presented to me by ESPN accelerated my decision to retire from playing football,” Hasselbeck said. “I’m excited for the chance to give everything I have to this new endeavor and share the knowledge I have with our viewers.”

    “Matthew has been on our radar for many years and we expect him to have an immediate impact as he transitions from the playing field to a marquee analyst role on our signature NFL shows,” said Seth Markman, ESPN’s senior coordinating producer of NFL studio shows.

    Hasselbeck will undoubtedly be one of the forgotten quarterback's of the 2000's, but he shouldn't be.  He revived a Seattle Seahawks franchise and led them to a Super Bowl appearance, one which they very easily could have won if not for a few bogus calls.

    In the latter part of his career backing up Andrew Luck, he became the perfect backup quarterback. Someone who could help the starter because he's seen it all before and step in if need be and operate an offense.  He did this while not being a threat to the young starter.

    He played in eight games last season and proved there still is something left in the tank.  Hasselbeck completed nearly 61 percent of his throws with nine touchdowns and five interceptions, and led the Colts to a 5-3 record as a starter.

    There would have been plenty of interest for Hasselbeck as a backup in 2016.
  • Bengals Re-Sign Safety George Iloka To 5-Year Deal

    One of the hottest free agent names at safety is now off the market as the Cincinnati Bengals retained their former fifth-round pick, George Iloka.

    The 6-foot-4, 225 pound safety reportedly signed a five-year, $30 million deal to stay with the AFC North champion Bengals.

    Cincinnati keeps an important member of their secondary in tact while the market rises for fellow free agent Eric Weddle.  With so many teams needing help at the position and a very poor draft class at the position, Weddle's market could be expanding even further.

  • NFL AM: Chris Ivory To Sign With The Jacksonville Jaguars

    Jacksonville Jaguars to sign Chris Ivory:

    The Jacksonville Jaguars made the biggest news of the day on Wednesday when the team come to terms with one of free agency's biggest prizes in Malik Jackson, but the team didn’t stop there, as they reportedly targeted another stud for their defensive line, and came to terms with former New York Jets running back Chris Ivory.

    Ivory joins a backfield with TJ Yeldon and Denard Robinson, while the Jaguars are expected to release Toby Gerhart. Yeldon had 740 yards last season as a rookie for the Jaguars, but clearly the team thought he could use some help.

    Robinson and Gerhart would have been sufficient backups if the team planned to use Yeldon as a feature back, but the signing of Ivory signifies that the team will use more of a committee in the backfield.

    Yeldon and Ivory give the Jaguars a bit of thunder and lightning, as the Jacksonville offense now has a big-play speed back and a short-yardage thumper. The Jaguars offense is young and versatile, but Ivory adds an element that the team hoped to get out of Gerhart when they signed the back two years ago.

    As explosive as Jacksonville’s passing game has become, Gus Bradley would love to have a rushing attack that could pound teams into the ground and set up the play action game. If the Jaguars are going to start winning games and helping their defense out by controlling the football, they’re going to have to run the football. Adding Ivory to the mix sure looks like a commitment to the run.

    David Caldwell is far from finished adding talent, as the Jaguars enter the new league year with more cap space than any team in football. After signing Jackson to his new massive deal, the Jaguars GM is expected to set his sights on Miami Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon. Miami placed the transition tag on the pass rusher, but after signing Mario Williams to a two-year contract, it seems unlikely they would match a lucrative offer to Vernon.

    A Jags defensive line which featured Jackson, Vernon and Dante Fowler who returns from the ACL injury he suffered during his first practice a season ago could be the cornerstone of a much improved defense.

    New York Giants to sign Janoris Jenkins:

    This is a very different kind of year for the New York Giants. Tom Coughlin is gone, and the New York Giants have a ton of cap room. Both of these are new situations for general manager Jerry Reese who’s signing and drafting players for a coach other than Coughlin for the first time.

    The hot seat which Coughlin enjoyed for much of his career in New York is now firmly under Reese who has had a very up and down run as the Giants’ general manager. Reese’s tenure with New York can be summed up by just looking at the Giants’ current roster. They seem at times just a couple of pieces away from being Super Bowl contenders, and at others like a roster in desperate need of talent.

    They might be both, but the Giants will need to look a lot more like the prior if Reese wants to hold onto his job for much longer. Because New York has rare cap space, and because of the pressure on their general manager, the Giants might be more aggressive in free agency than they have been in previous years, and Tuesday morning we got our first evidence of that when Adam Schefter reported the team is set to sign one of the top corners on the free agent market, Janoris Jenkins.

    The Giants need help all over their defense, and Jenkins would be a huge signing that would also likely spell the end of free agent corner Prince Amukamara. The former Rams corner and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie would give the Giants a very strong pair of corners who stay on the field.

    New York has a long way to go, but unlike prior years, it would be no surprise to see them remain active in a market ripe with strong defenders. While the team still needs pass rush help, Pro Football Talk is reporting the Giants are trying to land massive run stuffing nose tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison.

    Raiders signings make a ton of sense:

    Tuesday began with good news for Oakland Raiders fans as they learned the team had come to terms with one of the better young guards in football, snagging Kelechi Osemele away from the Baltimore Ravens.

    The news got even better late Tuesday night when the team announced it had also come to an agreement with one of the more versatile pass rushing linebackers in the game, Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin.

    Four years and 22 sacks after many believed the Seahawks reached by selecting Irvin with the 15th- overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the linebacker is getting ready to strike it rich in Oakland where he’ll team with one of the budding defensive stars in the league, Khalil Mack.

    The Raiders were among the teams with the most money to spend entering free agency, and they haven’t wasted any time in jumping into the free agent waters, signing two of the top free agents on the market. While this isn’t new ground for an Oakland team that has thrown money at free agents for years, this team has a different feel than Raiders teams past.

    The Raiders have a young nucleus of players like Mack, Amari Cooper and quarterback Derek Carr who are on the doorstep to super stardom, and it should have their fans optimistic about the direction of the team.

    It’s not only the direction of the team Osemele and Irvin are joining that feels different, but the signings themselves feel different for the Raiders. Of course, the details of these contracts have yet to be released, and we could see the numbers and immediately apply our palms to our faces, on the surface, these moves make a ton of sense.

    Irvin is a guy who just screams Raiders, and his energy is exactly what that defense needs. He’s a versatile player that Ken Norton Jr should have a field day with. The former Seahawks’ linebacker can be moved all over the field as a pass rusher, and having to game plan for Irvin and Mack is going to cause some sleepless nights for offensive coordinators getting ready to face the Raiders this upcoming season.

    The new league year begins Wednesday at 4PM Eastern Standard Time, and there will be plenty of money flying around. It’s as festive as December 31st for football players and fans alike. Enjoy the optimism as teams begin to sign new toys and start building the foundations for what they hope will be a successful 2016. Happy New Year everybody!
  • Oakland Raiders Come To Terms With OLB Bruce Irvin

    The Oakland Raiders have made their second splash of free agency as they have reportedly come to terms with former Seattle Seahawks outside linebacker Bruce Irvin.

    The former first-round pick started 12 games in 2015 and registered 5.5 sacks.  His best season came as a rookie in 2012 when he gathered eight sacks.

    Irvin transformed himself from a "designated pass rusher" to a legitimately good 4-3 outside linebacker. With both he and Khalil Mack rushing from the edges, the Oakland Raiders defense could be a more formidable group in 2016.

    Oakland finished 22nd in the NFL in total defense and scoring defense in 2015, while finished tied for 14th in sacks.

    The Seahawks were prepared to lose Irvin and they will likely find his replacement in the draft.

  • Bills Finalize Three-Year Deal With Incognito

    One of the best free agent guards went off the market today as the Buffalo Bills and Richie Incognito came to terms on a three-year deal reportedly worth $15 million.

    After missing the 2014 season, Incognito had a stellar 2015 campaign and was a wanted man in free agency.  Now it appears that Cleveland's Alex Mack and Houston's Brandon Brooks are the best interior line options.

    After franchising left tackle Cordy Glenn, Buffalo has kept the two most important members of their offensive line in tact.



  • Broncos Release Three Veterans: Daniels, Vasquez, Brewer

    Fresh off their Super Bowl 50 title, the Denver Broncos will look significantly different in 2016.

    After Peyton Manning's Monday retirement, the team reportedly lost free agent defensive end Malik Jackson to the Jacksonville Jaguars in free agency.

    Shortly after that, the team announced that it is parting ways with tight end Owen Daniels, offensive guard Louis Vasquez and long-snapper Aaron Brewer.

    "These decisions are never easy, but we appreciate the contributions Louis, Owen and Aaron made to our team, especially during our Super Bowl run," Broncos czar John Elway said.

    Daniels started slow, but finished strong as he had 46 catches for 517 yards and three touchdowns in the regular season.  He had two touchdowns in the team's AFC Championship Game victory over the New England Patriots.

    At 33 years old, there will be a limited market for Daniels' services, but look for a possible match with the New England Patriots.

    Former Pro Bowl guard Louis Vasquez will likely have a bigger market as he is just 28 years old and is a solid starter on the interior line.  Look for the Baltimore Ravens, New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers to have some interest.

    The moves created an additional $8+ million of cap room for the Broncos who still need to come to terms with quarterback Brock Osweiler.
  • Report: Giants Agree To One-Year Deal With Jason Pierre-Paul

    According to an NFL Media Report, the New York Giants have agreed to a one-year deal with defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.

    It was unexpected that JPP and the Giants would come to terms, but the former first-round pick reportedly turned down more money on a longer term deal from other interested parties.

    JPP will try to have a big "prove-it year" and then capitalize on the open market.

    Of course that was supposed to be the plan last year, but the big defensive end blew off his finger and part of his hand in a July 4th fireworks incident.

    If Pierre-Paul does indeed have a big season, the New York Giants could franchise him again while they try to work out a deal.

    This doesn't necessarily mean the Giants are out of the free agent defensive end market, as Miami's Olivier Vernon could be a nice complement.
  • Chiefs Agree To 3-Year Deal With Tamba Hali

    The Kansas City Chiefs have come to terms with free agent defensive end Tamba Hali in what is being reported as a three-year deal. 

    With the team already franchising safety Eric Berry, it was important to keep Hali in the fold as the 32-year old pass rusher was selected to his fifth Pro Bowl in 2015.  Hali and Justin Houston form one of the best pass rushing tandem's in the NFL.

    Look for the Chiefs to be outbid on the services of a few of their own defensive free agents.  Linebacker Derrick Johnson, cornerback Sean Smith and defensive tackle Jaye Howard will likely find more money elsewhere.
  • Report: Jaguars Come To Terms With Malik Jackson

    One of the biggest catches of free agency has apparently signed a deal with the team who has the most bait.

    The Jacksonville Jaguars have reportedly come to terms with former Denver Broncos defensive end Malik Jackson.


    It was expected that the Broncos might lose Jackson when they couldn't come to terms with linebacker Von Miller and were forced to use the exclusive franchise tag on him.

    Jackson will reportedly become the fourth-highest paid defensive lineman in the NFL and he will help the Jaguars anemic pass rush immediately.

    He can line up outside on early downs and in obvious pass rush situations, Jackson can line up on the inside similar to how the Seattle Seahawks use Michael Bennett.

    The Jaguars had roughly $82.2 million worth of salary cap space entering free agency and no team could outbid them for anyone's services.

    This is probably a bigger gain for the Jaguars than it is a loss for the Broncos, as they still have pass rushers Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware in the fold.

    With Jackson and Dante Fowler added to the mix in 2016, the Jacksonville defense could take a major step forward.