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2010 NFL Free Agency/CBA Q&A

Posted by Taylor Price on March 4, 2010 – 11:00 AM

The 2010 free agency signing period begins at 12:01 AM ET on Friday, March 5. The NFL has provided us with this free agency/collective bargaining agreement Q&A to alleviate any questions fans might have.

 Q.  When can players start being signed in the 2010 free agency signing period?
A.  Beginning at 12:01 AM ET on Friday, March 5. 

Q.  What are the categories of free agency?
 A.  Players are either “restricted” or “unrestricted” free agents.  Within the categories are also “transition” and “franchise” players.

Q.  What is the time period for free agency signings this year?
A.  For restricted free agents, from March 5 to April 15.  For unrestricted free agents who have received the June 1 tender from their prior Club, from March 5 to July 22 (or the first scheduled day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is later).  For franchise players, from March 5 until the Tuesday after the 10th week of the regular-season (November 16).  If he does not sign by November 16, he must sit out the season.  There are no transition player designations this year.

Q.  What is the difference between a restricted free agent and an unrestricted free agent?
AIn the 2010 League Year, players become restricted free agents when they complete three, four or five accrued seasons and their contract expires.  Unrestricted free agents have completed six or more accrued seasons.  An unrestricted free agent is free to sign with any club with no compensation owed to his old club.

Q.  What constitutes an “accrued season?”
A.  Six or more regular-season games on a club’s active/inactive, reserved-injured or “physically unable to perform” lists.

Q.  Other than accrued seasons, what determines a restricted free agent? 
A.  He has received a “qualifying” offer (a salary level predetermined by the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and its players) from his old club.  He can negotiate with any club through April 15.  If the restricted free agent accepts an offer sheet from a new club, his old club can match the offer and retain him because it has the “right of first refusal.”  If the old club does not match the offer, it can possibly receive draft-choice compensation depending on the amount of its qualifying offer.  If an offer sheet is not executed, and the player receives the June 1 tender from his old club, the player’s rights revert exclusively to his old club on June 1.

Q.  What determines an unrestricted free agent?
A.  A player with six or more accrued seasons whose contract has expired.  He is free to sign with any club, with no 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 rights revert to his old club if it made a “tender” offer (110 percent of last year’s salary) to him by June 1.  His old club then has until the Tuesday after the 10th week of the season (November 16) to sign him.  If he does not sign by November 16, he must sit out the season.  If no tender is offered by June 1, the player can be signed by any club at any time throughout the season. 

Q.  What determines a transition player?
A.  A transition player must be offered a minimum of the average of the top 10 salaries of the prior season at the player’s position or 120 percent of the player’s prior year’s salary, whichever is greater.  A transition player designation gives he club a first-refusal right to match within seven days an offer sheet given to the player by another club after his contract expires.  If the club matches, it retains the player.  If it does not match, it receives no draft pick compensation from that club.  In 2010, a club may designate a franchise player or a transition player in lieu of a franchise player, as well as one additional transition player. 

Q.  What determines a franchise player?
A.  The salary level offer by a player’s club determines what type of franchise player he is.  An “exclusive” franchise player — not free to sign with another club — is offered a minimum of the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position for the current year as of April 15, or 120 percent of the player’s previous year’s 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.  If a player is offered a minimum of the average of the top five salaries of last season at his position, or 120 percent of the player’s previous year’s salary, he becomes a “non-exclusive” franchise player and can negotiate with other clubs.  His old club can match a new club’s offer, or receive two first-round draft choices if it decides not to match. 

Q.  Can a club decide to withdraw its franchise or transition designations on a player?
A.  Yes

Q.  Can a club then use them on other players?
ANot in the 2010 season.  A club can withdraw its franchise or transition designations and the player then automatically becomes an unrestricted free agent either immediately or when his contract expires.

 CBA-RELATED QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

 Q. When does the CBA expire should there be no extension to the agreement?
A. In March of 2011.

Q. Will there be a college draft in 2011?
A. Yes.

Q. What is the “Final League Year” in the current agreement?
A. The “Final League Year” is the term used in the CBA to refer to the last year of the agreement, which is 2010.  The 2010 League Year begins on March 5. 

 Q. What are the differences between the “Final League Year” and any other “League Year?”
A.  The principal differences are that in the “Final League Year” there is no salary cap and there are substantial additional restrictions on player free agency and reductions in player benefits.

Q. Are current player benefits affected in the Final League Year?
A. We expect the amount of current player benefits to decline in the Final League Year.  The union agreed that in the Final League Year, clubs would be relieved of obligations regarding numerous benefit programs.  Examples include second career savings (401K), player annuity, health reimbursement arrangement, severance pay and performance-based pay.  The total league-wide contributions to such plans in 2009, the last capped year, were in excess of $335 million or more than $10 million per club. 

Q. Are retired player benefits affected in the Final League Year?
A. Commissioner Goodell has stated in a letter to the NFL Alumni Association Board of Directors that there will be no reduction in pension or disability payments to retired players during the Final League Year (2010).  Since at least the fall of 2007, NFL owners have consistently agreed and planned that they will not reduce the funding for pension or disability benefits for retired players, nor will they change qualifications on payments to players under the 88 Plan during the Final League Year. 

Q. What determines an unrestricted free agent in the Final League Year (2010)?
A. In capped seasons, a player whose contract has expired becomes an unrestricted free agent if he has four or more accrued seasons.  In the Final League Year (2010), a player whose contract has expired becomes an unrestricted free agent only if he has six or more accrued seasons.  An unrestricted free agent is free to sign with any club with no compensation owed to his old club. 

Q. What determines whether a player is a restricted free agent in the “Final League Year?”
A. In capped seasons, a player whose contract expires becomes a restricted free agent if he has three accrued seasons.  In the Final League Year (2010), a player whose contract expires becomes a restricted free agent if he has three, four or five accrued seasons.

Q. In addition to the right to designate a franchise (or transition) player each capped year, can clubs designate additional players in the Final League Year?
A. Yes, one additional player can be tagged.  In capped years, a club may designate a franchise player or a transition player in lieu of a franchise player.  In the Final League Year (2010), the above rule also applies, however, a club may also designate one additional transition player.  A transition player must be offered a minimum of the average of the top 10 salaries of the prior season at the player’s position or 120 percent of the player’s prior year’s salary, whichever is greater.  A transition player designation gives the club a first-refusal right to match within seven days an offer sheet given to the player by another club after his contract expires.  If the club matches, it retains the player.  If it does not match, it receives no draft pick compensation from that club.

Q. What is the Final Eight Plan?
A. During the Final League Year, the eight clubs that make the Divisional Playoffs in the previous season have additional restrictions that limit their ability to sign unrestricted free agents from other clubs.  In general, the four clubs participating in the championship games are limited in the number of unrestricted free agents that they may sign; the limit is determined by the number of their own unrestricted free agents signing with other clubs.  They cannot sign any UFAs unless one of theirs is signed by another team.

For the four clubs that lost in the Divisional Playoffs, in addition to having the ability to sign unrestricted free agents based on the number of their own unrestricted free agents signing with other clubs, they may also sign players based on specific financial parameters.  Those four only will be permitted to sign one unrestricted free agent for $5,807,475 million or more in year one of the contract, plus the number of their UFAs who sign with another team. They also can sign any unrestricted free agents for no more than $3,861,823 million in year one of the contract with limitations on the per year increases.

In the case of all final eight teams, the first year salary of UFAs they sign to replace those lost cannot exceed the first year salary of the player lost with limitations on the per year increases.

Q. Is there an Entering Player Pool in the Final League Year?
A. Yes.  The CBA provides that the league has the right to keep the rookie pool in the Final League Year. 

Q. Is there a Minimum Team Salary in the Final League Year?
A.  There is no Minimum Team Salary in the Final League Year.

Q.  Are there individual player minimum salaries in the Final League Year?
A. Yes, but they rise at a rate somewhat slower than player minimum salaries rise in capped years.

 Q.Do any player contract rules from capped years remain in place for the Final League Year?
A.  Yes.  Some rules like the “30% increase rule” are still in effect in the Final League Year for player contracts signed in capped years.  That rule restricts salary increases from 2009 to 2010 and beyond.  For example: a player with a $500,000 salary in 2009 would be limited to annual salary increases of $150,000 ($500,000 x 30%) beginning in 2010.


Posted in Uncategorized | 21 Comments »


21 Responses to “2010 NFL Free Agency/CBA Q&A”

  1. By Mike on Mar 4, 2010 | Reply

    Whats the number one position going into free agency to address? How is the salary cap gonna play in your favor if at all?

  2. By Jo on Mar 4, 2010 | Reply

    SIGN A KICK RETURN SPECIALIST ASAP! PLAYOFF BOUND IF JUST THIS MOVE WAS MADE!!!

  3. By Mario Baca on Mar 5, 2010 | Reply

    Talking about free agents, I want T.O. on the Niners again, he said he wants to retire as one but play before he doe. If he does have trouble, Singletary would put him in check, but I dont think he would have to because T.O. is where he wants to be for once again.

  4. By Damen on Mar 5, 2010 | Reply

    Tell them to give up the 17th pick and get B. Marshall. Then draft one of the high class tackles they like if they are sitting there for them at 13.

  5. By michael on Mar 5, 2010 | Reply

    just a few points from a life long 49er fan. #1 with brandon marshall recieving only a 1st round tender i would hope we are at least exploring that possiblity. then keep our #13 pick and grab c.j. spiller/ or best tackle remaining. if we would sign antrelle rolle that would fill our safety gap. i can just imagine how alex would do with crabtree,marshall,gore and a line!!!! GO 49ers!!! this is the year!

  6. By rc on Mar 6, 2010 | Reply

    Sign a good DB!!! draft a safety and a tackle

  7. By Aristotle on Mar 6, 2010 | Reply

    1. Pleas sign Brian Westbrook or LTor Willie Parker!!!

    2. Please sign Antonio Bryant!!

    3 Please sign Roy Williams!!

    We need to Draft a DE and a very good kick and punt returner who can make a game changing play!!!

  8. By Aristotle on Mar 6, 2010 | Reply

    I would love to give up our ONE of our first to get brandon Marshall!! why not we always work the draft and we haven’t been to the playoffs in since 2002!!

    SO CHANGE UR WAY OF DOING THINGS SO WE CAN WIN!!!!!

  9. By Jas on Mar 6, 2010 | Reply

    I agree with all the fans asking for B. Marshall, I have been a big fan of his over the last few seasons and feel that with a long term offensive coordinator and deep threats like marshall, crabtree and davis we can do some damage in the nfc. I do not feel that alex smith is our starting qb, nor is shaun hill. please singletary please, start nate davis.

  10. By greg on Mar 6, 2010 | Reply

    lets get b marshall and then a tackel and we pick up a saftey or trade our second round pick for a solid saftey and then that would b a playoff team for sure…

  11. By John Mackey on Mar 6, 2010 | Reply

    Please give Nate Davis a full and fair analysis. methinks he is a loaded potential

  12. By Jesse Vandegriff on Mar 6, 2010 | Reply

    i recently wrote a letter to the GM (Scot) expressing who i would like to see drafted.
    1. with the 13th pick please pick the best possible offensive lineman to shore up the line for smith, he needs a pocket he can pass out of.
    2. if possible pleae trade the 17th pick to anyone willing and that has a DB that can make our defense a little younger and dynamic. Nnamdi is the best option and if Al Davis is wanting to off load him and his salary i dont see a better option. if no trade is possible than obviously fill in with the best possible pick or athelete to trade later.
    3. please go after Myron Rolle for saftey, we are lacking the speed and intelegence to play the position. im am tired of watch our defense get burned with the deep ball or not being able to blitze properly from that position. Taylor Mays is also an option.
    4. Please Please Please draft toby gerhart and have rathman turn him into the power back that he is destin to be!!! we need a 3rd and short RB that can run up the middle and pound the ball like rathman and william floyd used to do!!!!!!

    i cant wait to see what the future holds for this young, dynamic team with the right coach at the helm.

  13. By Jesse Vandegriff on Mar 6, 2010 | Reply

    and if you can do something to offset what the cards and seachickens are doing in the offseason, ie brandon marshall and the cards trading for picks and the jets safety…. that would be nice too!!!

  14. By Eric Morris on Mar 7, 2010 | Reply

    we need clausen what good is marshall if you cant get him the ball

  15. By Rob on Mar 7, 2010 | Reply

    Would someone at least schedule a visit with Brandon Marshall……….If you could land him that would give Alex Smith 4 pro bowl weapons on offense in Gore, Marshall, Vernon Davis, and potentially Crabtree. How would teams stop that production. You will still have a #1 pick left to get someone to protect Smith. It’s not even an option………….. it’s a must!!! We need another receiver and he is arguably the best in the league.

  16. By Sebastian on Mar 7, 2010 | Reply

    As a lifetime fan of this team, I am so upset with the lack of action in the free agency thus far. Of all the top tier talent out there, the only player we’ve managed to show interest in is DAVID CARR? WHY? WHAT HAS HE DONE THIS FAR IN HIS CAREER TO MERIT ATTENTION FROM US? Brandon Marshall is a must and I dont think we’d have to give one of our first rounders to get him. I think parting with a 2nd rounder would be enough. There is a nice talent pool in the draft available for our mid first round picks, but I don’t think that’s a good enough reason to not pursue another Veteran presence. I would rather trade a late pick for Michael Vick than have us pick up David Carr. Its counter productive. Finishing at 8-8 means we are on the brink of something big. Lets not blow another off season.

  17. By Sean Berreth on Mar 7, 2010 | Reply

    FYI if we offer Marshall a contract we lose our 13th pick we can’t pick which one they get. They get the highest pick. Thats why seattle isn’t a forsure deal right now cuz they would have to give up the 6th pick for him. and 2 if we did give up the 13th pick for Marshall its not a guarantee one of the 3 OT we are looking for in Trent williams Bulaga or Possibily davis would be there at 17 leaving our 1st round picks wasted and not filling any need we had

  18. By Tad Babcock on Mar 7, 2010 | Reply

    I have been a fan of the 49ers since I was a kid, & they have been known for QB’s Montana, Young, now who do we have….nobody Alex Smith is a waste, & Shaun Hill is alright but still not good enough. I think you guys should go after a good QB in the free angency someone like Jake Delhomme or someone!!! Hell maybe even go for Tim Tebow if he is still available!! But you need to quit wasting time & money with Alex I’m sorry!!!

  19. By alex_fn_smith on Mar 8, 2010 | Reply

    i always liked Alex Smith and i thought last year he stepped up to the plate and showed us all what he can do,but lets keep him in there,in my opinion on what is hurting us is all the rotating, pick one QB and stick with him. Shaun Hill was great too, but he just couldn’t get the ball down field,but here’s the problem with Alex Smith…the boy can scramble,he has legs,but it just seems like nobody wants him to use them. Me personally, I’d rather see him run and gain some yardage like he did in college rather than throw the ball out of bounds constantly. That was the good thing about Shaun Hill he through the ball much quicker, Alex Smith waits to long to throw,but last year he was getting rid of the ball quicker,and was successful. and what ever happened to all of the screen passes to gore? That always worked,and i didn’t see that at all last year,this year they should use Frank Gore as a receiver more, much more,because that r e a l l y helps.

  20. By FaithfulManSince'88 on Mar 8, 2010 | Reply

    Tad Babcock doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Alex will be better with the same O Coordinator. It’s all up to Management and Coaching Staff to pick the right guys to make an immediate impact. For 2010, we want production, not potential.

    I sometimes feel like we’re playing catch up to the rest of the league. It’s on Mcloughan and Singletary to find the talent in the draft. Free Agency is just a waste of money on washed up players. After they have been in the league for a while, all they care about is the money. IMPACT ROOKIES IS HOW YOU GET TO THE SUPERBOWL!!!

  21. By tony on Mar 19, 2010 | Reply

    I think niners should try to get Nathan vasher of Chicago Bears and Pacman Jones to cover the DB. they have lost Marcus Hudson, and potentially Dre Bly.
    and then try to concentrate on Big Pass Rusher LB or DE. and SS.

    if they will draft an OL, it will take time to learn their system and of course they will just be in the sidelines for learning purposes.

    Overall, what they need is a Pass Rusherrrrrrrrr.

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