(07/31/2008 – TMRZoo.com) Seventy-nine veteran free agents re-signed with their old teams this year during the free-agency signing period, while 132 signed with new teams, the National Football League announced today. The five-month UFA signing period, under terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and players, ended July 22.
The Miami Dolphins signed the most unrestricted free agents from other teams (10), while the Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans, Minnesota Vikings and Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed eight apiece.
There were a total of 311 unrestricted free agents this year. The total player pool is approximately 1,700.
Three of this year’s 67 restricted free agents signed with a new team – Oakland cornerback CHRIS CARR with Tennessee, Tampa Bay cornerback KALVIN PEARSON with Detroit, and Indianapolis tight end BEN UTECHT with Cincinnati. Sixty-four restricted free agents returned to their former clubs. The period for restricted free agents to accept offers from other teams ended April 18.
The 135 total free agents who switched teams represent only eight percent of all NFL players. Of 429 players who were free agents in the various categories of the system, 287 signed new contracts with either new teams or their old clubs.
Under the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement, players without 2008 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 29 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 (November 11), 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 restricted or unrestricted free agent whose team must tender a one-year contract at the average of the 10 highest-paid players of 2007 at the transition player’s position, or a 20 percent increase, whichever is greater. A “franchise” player is a designated restricted or 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 2007, or a 20 percent increase, whichever is greater.