By definition, restricted free agents are three-year veterans, and are eligible to negotiate through April 15 with other clubs. If they sign an offer sheet, their incumbent team has the right to match it, and then absorbs the contract. If the current team does not match, the player can move on, but his new team must compensate the franchise from which he came with a draft choice.
Holdman would not require compensation because of a clerical error by Chicago officials.
If a restricted free agent does not sign an offer sheet by Monday evening, he can negotiate only with his current team thereafter. Current teams will have until Friday to match any offer sheets signed Monday by their restricted free agents.
Of the 104 restricted free agents league-wide this spring only one has changed teams by traditional method. That was former Pittsburgh kicker Kris Brown, who inked a four-year, $4.7 million offer sheet with the Houston Texans that the Steelers opted not to match. Two others, wide receiver D'Wayne Bates of Chicago and guard David Loverne of the New York Jets were restricted free agents who switched team by unconventional methods.
Bates signed a three-year, $2.85 million offer sheet with the Vikings, a deal that was matched by the Bears. But the Bears then released Bates after determining he would not restructure the deal, and the Vikings claimed him on waivers. Loverne was traded to Washington in a deal in which the Redskins and Jets also flipped spots in the fifth round of the 2002 draft.
Since the free agent system was implemented in 1993, only 41 restricted free agents have moved to new teams, but 21 of those came in the first three seasons of free agency. Just 10 restricted free agents changed teams in the last three years.