Free Agent Movement, Less Than Expected

There were a total of 340 unrestricted free agents this year. The total player pool is approximately 1,700.

 

One-hundred-and-thirteen veteran free agents re-signed with their old teams this year during the unrestricted free agency signing period, while 111 signed with new teams, the National Football League announced today.  The four-month UFA signing period, under terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and players, ended July 22.       

The Atlanta Falcons signed the most unrestricted free agents from other teams (7), while five teams (Buffalo, Dallas, Jacksonville, Miami and Washington) signed six such players each.  The 111 UFAs that switched teams is 19 fewer than last year. 

There were a total of 340 unrestricted free agents this year.  The total player pool is approximately 1,700.

Five of this year's 120 restricted free agents signed with new teams.  The Buffalo Bills signed Seattle kicker RIAN LINDELL, and the Washington Redskins signed safety MATT BOWEN of Green Bay, defensive tackle JERMAINE HALEY of Miami, and wide receiver LAVERANUES COLES and running back-kick returner CHAD MORTON of the New York Jets.  One-hundred-and-twelve restricted free agents returned to their former clubs.  The period for restricted free agents to accept offers from other teams ended April 18.  

In addition, one transition player signed with a new team, Cincinnati linebacker TAKEO SPIKES with Buffalo.

The 117 total free agents who switched teams represent only seven percent of all NFL players.  Of 534 players who were free agents in the various categories of the system, 348 signed new contracts with either new teams or their old clubs.

"The veteran free agent signings reflect a belief by teams and players that continuity and stability play an important role in our sport," said HAROLD HENDERSON, executive vice president of labor relations and chairman of the NFL Management Council.  "The system continues to enhance the competitive balance that is so important in our sport." 

Under the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement, players without 2003 contracts who had four or more seasons of free agency experience qualified to be "unrestricted free agents" and were free to sign with any club between February 28 and July 22.  

If a player's prior club made a 110 percent tender on or before June 1, the prior club retained exclusive negotiating rights after July 22 if the player did not sign with another club.  If the player and club are unable to negotiate a contract by the 10th week of the regular season, the player may not play the remainder of the season.  If the player sits out the season, he becomes an unrestricted free agent next year.

Under the CBA, restricted free agents are those players who have three seasons of free agency experience and are subject to compensation and/or right of first refusal.

A "transition" player is a designated unrestricted free agent whose team must tender a one-year contract at the average of the 10 highest-paid players of 2002 at the transition player's position, or a 20 percent increase, whichever is greater.  A "franchise" player is a designated unrestricted free agent whose team must tender a one-year contract at the average of the five highest-paid players at the franchise player's position in 2002, or a 20 percent increase, whichever is greater.  

A comparison of free agent movement since the current CBA went into effect 11 years ago: 

 

NFL FREE AGENCY MOVEMENT

(Veteran Free Agents Who Signed With New Teams)

Category

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

Unrestricted

108

121

171

99

85

110

115

107

93

130

111

Restricted

8

7

6

4

2

4

2

4

4

1

5

Transition

4

4

2

2

2

1

1

0

0

0

1

Franchise

    1

    0

    0

   0

  0

    2

__0

__0

_0

__0

0

TOTALS

121

132

179

105

89

117

118

111

97

131

117


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