Free Agency: New Tender Helps Fill Gap

A new level of tendering restricted free agents became a popular option this year and might give teams cause for pause before dishing out offer sheets. Go inside the numbers of this year's restricted free-agent class.

With what is considered a limited market of unrestricted free agents this year, it was thought there could be more than the usual activity among the league's restricted free agents. The latter are players with three accrued seasons.

However, because of an addition to the new collective bargaining agreement, teams will think twice about giving offer sheets to many players.

Previously, there were three levels of tenders for restricted free agents. The lowest tender would provide draft-choice compensation at the level matching the round the player was selected when he entered the NFL. If the player was undrafted, there would be no compensation if an offer sheet was presented and the original team elected not to match it.

The next two tenders resulted in compensation of a first-round pick and then first- and third-round picks. Because the gap was large and widening between the lowest tender and that for a first-round choice, this year a tender was added in between those two that calls for a second-round pick as compensation.

That new tender turned out to be very popular. Of the 94 restricted free agents, 23 (24.5 percent) were tendered at the second-round figure of $1.3 million. Five players were tendered at $1.85 million for a first-round pick, while three were tendered at $2.35 million for first- and third-round picks. The remaining 63 received the lowest tender of $850,000.

Of the 23 players that received the second-round tender, 10 entered the NFL as undrafted free agents. Also notable is that the Colts issued three second-round tenders. Combined with the franchise tender for defensive end Dwight Freeney, Indianapolis has tenders totaling $12.56 million for those four players.

Below are the players that received tenders other than the minimum. The figure in parentheses is the original draft round for the player.

First-round tender
DE Bobby McCray, Jacksonville (7th) K Josh Scobee, Jacksonville (5th; re-signed Friday
OT Max Starks, Pittsburgh (3rd)
OT Sean Locklear, Seattle (3rd)
OG Jacob Bell, Tennessee (5th)

First- and third-round tender
QB Matt Schaub, Atlanta (3rd)
DE Jared Allen, Kansas City (4th)
RB Michael Turner, San Diego (5th)

Second-round tender
C Nick Leckey, Arizona (6th)
LB Demorrio Williams, Atlanta (4th)
DT Jordan Carstens, Carolina (FA)
WR Drew Carter, Carolina (5th)
TE Michael Gaines, Carolina (7th)
G Stacy Andrews, Cincinnati (4th)
P Kyle Larson, Cincinnati (FA)
WR Patrick Crayton, Dallas (7th)
FB Cecil Sapp, Denver (FA)
OG Ryan Lilja, Indianapolis (FA)
OG Jake Scott, Indianapolis (5th)
DE Josh Thomas, Indianapolis (FA)
CB Ahmad Carroll, Jacksonville (1st)
QB Quinn Gray, Jacksonville (FA)
WR Ernest Wilford, Jacksonville (4th)
S Yeremiah Bell, Miami (6th)
QB Cleo Lemon, Miami (FA)
WR Wes Welker, Miami (FA)
CB Randall Gay, New England (FA)
S Gibril Wilson, N.Y. Giants (5th)
DB Jordan Babineaux, Seattle (FA)
WR D.J. Hackett, Seattle (5th)
C Eugene Amano, Tennessee (4th)

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