A tender issue

While big-name players always make the headlines in the early stages of free agency, almost a hundred players were being considered at different tendering levels across the league. Inside is a breakdown of how it works and who got what.

Amid the headlines garnered by players being signed to monster contracts are those players simply happy to being on rosters at the league minimum.

A group of those players are potential restricted free agents that didn't receive tenders from their teams Feb. 26, the day before the league year began.

When the Jacksonville Jaguars announced Tuesday they had re-signed restricted free-agent defensive end James Wyche, the team wasn't being entirely accurate. In reality, Wyche wasn't tendered by the team last week, and likely re-signed for the league minimum of $535,000.

Here's the way it works: Tenders this year for restricted free agents (players with three accrued seasons) were $1.01 million (original draft-choice compensation), $1.545 million (second-round pick compensation), $2.198 million (first-round pick compensation) and 2.792 million (first- and third-round pick compensation).

Of the 55 restricted free agents who received tenders, 26 were the lowest tenders, 25 were for second-round picks, one was for a No. 1 pick (Pittsburgh right tackle Willie Colon) and three came in at the highest tender (Houston tight end Owen Daniels, New Orleans guard Jahri Evans and Tampa Bay offensive tackle Donald Penn).

To go along with the 55 restricted free agents and 336 unrestricted free agents were 44 players that did not receive tenders. In that group, 29 would have been restricted free agents and the other 15 exclusive rights free agents. The latter group is players with less than three accrued seasons, and to retain exclusive rights, a team only has to tender a contract at the league minimum salary for 2009: $310,000 for no accrued seasons; $385,000 for one and $460,000 for two.

To qualify for an accrued season, a player must be on the active roster, reserve/injured or reserve/physically unable to perform list for at least six games.

So, back to the case of the largely anonymous Wyche. Teams are often interested in re-signing a potential restricted free agent, just not at the minimum $1.01 million tender.

In the first few days of free agency, in addition to Wyche, Houston re-signed defensive end Stanley McClover, Atlanta re-signed center/guard Ben Wilkerson and Cincinnati re-signed running back DeDe Dorsey. Oakland signed tackle Erik Pears, who wasn't tendered by the Denver Broncos.

Following is a list of players that did not receive tenders (RFA restricted free agent; ERFA exclusive rights free agent).

ARIZONA - C Pat Ross (ERFA).

ATLANTA -OT Patrick McCoy (RFA); OG Ben Wilkerson (RFA; re-signed).


BUFFALO - DE Corey Mace (ERFA).

CAROLINA - DT Gary Gibson (RFA); WR Jason Carter (ERFA); NT J'Vonne Parker (ERFA).

CINCINNATI - S John Busing (RFA); RB DeDe Dorsey (RFA; re-signed); WR Glenn Holt (RFA); LB Corey Mays (RFA).

CLEVELAND - DE Chase Pittman (ERFA).

DALLAS - P Sam Paulescu (ERFA).

DENVER - OT Erik Pears (RFA; signed by Raiders); RB Andre Hall (ERFA).

DETROIT - ERFA: DT Shemiah LeGrande (ERFA).

GREEN BAY - RFA: WR Shaun Bodiford (RFA); TE Tory Humphrey (RFA).

HOUSTON - DE Stanley McClover (RFA; re-signed); WR Harry Williams (ERFA).

INDIANAPOLIS - LB Freddy Keiaho (RFA).

JACKSONVILLE - DE James Wyche (RFA; re-signed).

MIAMI - TE Aaron Halterman (RFA).

MINNESOTA - DE Otis Grigsby (RFA).

NEW ENGLAND - LB Eric Alexander (RFA); OT Wesley Britt (RFA).

NEW ORLEANS - RFA: WR Courtney Roby (ERFA); DT Montavious Stanley (ERFA).

N.Y. GIANTS - S Craig Dahl (ERFA); RB Kay-Jay Harris (ERFA).

PITTSBURGH - LB Arnold Harrison (RFA); S Anthony Smith (RFA); TE Jon Dekker (ERFA).

ST. LOUIS - OG Mark Setterstrom (RFA).

SEATTLE - LB Lance Laury (RFA).

WASHINGTON - S Reed Doughty (RFA); C Justin Geisinger (RFA); LB Rian Wallace (RFA).

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