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Restricted Free Agency Question

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by Metaphors, Mar 13, 2007.

  1. Metaphors

    Metaphors Rookie

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    The Welker situation has given rise to a lot of conflicting information...but I have a fairly fundamental question. Can a team (Miami in this case) trade an RFA without his explicit consent? From the NFLPA site:

    "Restricted Free Agent – A player whose contract expires when he has three Accrued Seasons (but less than four) is in this category in a capped year. If his old club provides him with a sufficient “Qualifying Offer” on or before March 1, 2007, it retains the right to either match an offer the player may get from another club or to receive draft choice compensation from the club making the offer. The Qualifying Offer is based on the level of draft choices the old club wants to receive. For Example, the Qualifying Offer to receive a first and third rounder in 2006 was $2,096,600. The Restricted Free Agent only has about a week before the draft (April 28 - 29 in 2007) to generate an offer from another club. If he fails to get an offer, his exclusive rights revert to the old club unless the Qualifying Offer is withdrawn."

    Sounds like the only right Miami has during the RFA period is to match or not match an offer from another club. I don't see anything that gives Miami the ability to trade the rights to Welker since they didn't actually own the rights to Welker (see the use of the phrase "revert to the old club" and not "remain with the old club").

    Some people have mentioned that you can trade the right of first refusal for Welker to another team...meaning the new team would then have to match/not match offers for Welker. This doesn't make any sense to me, I can't recall it ever happening and it is decidedly anti-player. For example, Miami knows that New England and Tennessee want to make offers for Welker, but he prefers New England. Miami could trade his ROFR to Tennessee for a 2nd round pick and ensure that he is out of the division. Welker would get the same money but his ability to choose where he wants to play would be compromised.

    Anyway, if Welker couldn't have been traded by Miami unless he explicit signed off on the deal, it would be difficult for New England to subvert the system. If anyone knows for sure, I would appreciate clarification.
  2. Miguel

    Miguel Patriots Salary Cap Guru PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #75 Jersey

    Welker signed his RFA tender and was then traded to the Pats.
  3. PatsFaninAZ

    PatsFaninAZ Rookie

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    I'm not an expert on this stuff by any means, but I don't think the word "trade" really has any meaning in this context.

    By definition, to be an RFA, the player cannot be under contract. So there's nothing to trade. A restricted free agent is, as the name implies, a free agent. He can sign with any club he wants. The word "restricted," though refers to the rights of the club that he played for previously under contract. He's restricted in the sense that that team gets certain rights if they offer him a qualifying contract -- ROFR and compensation in the form of draft picks -- if he gets an offer from another team.

    I guess what you're asking is whether the prior team's rights under the CBA are transferable, and I've never seen anything to suggest that they are. It would be weird if they were. I think the only way a team could be assured of getting ROFR rights and compensation rights would be if they acquired the player by trade while he was still under contract.

    But I think for purposes of understanding RFA, you have to start with the premise that the player is a free agent not under contract with any team. No team has rights to the player. The team that held his prior contract has certain rights to compensation if they jump through some hoops.
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2007
  4. Metaphors

    Metaphors Rookie

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    So if that is the case (and I don't see a reasonable alternative) can anyone explain what all the fuss is about given that:

    1) Welker signed the tender of his own free will, giving up his free agent rights
    2) The Pats traded for a signed, non-RFA Miami player
    3) This is what Welker wanted since he could have prevented it by not signing the Miami RFA tender
  5. AdamJT13

    AdamJT13 Rookie

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    Welker's agent might be arguing that he signed the tender because the Patriots told him he'd get a better contract than the one they ended up giving him -- or at least one that is different from the one he signed.
  6. arrellbee

    arrellbee Rookie

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    How about that. You make a perfectly lucid observation. I also am waiting for some answer as to what the fuss is all about. :)

    I will suggest one slight difference to what you say - and it's only a suggested possibility since I haven't tried to wade thru the entire CBA to put all the pieces together.

    A player who is a RFA does not have the option to sign with any team. His only option is to sign or not sign a tender offer made by the club (this is what restricted means - if he doesn't sign it, he doesn't play with anybody). If the club does NOT make a tender offer, then he becomes an unrestricted free agent. If he does sign the tender offer, then he gets the right to entertain offers for a contract from any other club and the provisions of offer and first refusal as oft discussed apply. He does not have to accept any of the offers and has the complete choice to instead play the year with his current club under the terms of the tender offer.

    At the same time, upon signing a tender offer he is now under contract to his current team and in addition to his right to entertain offers from other clubs, his team has the right to trade him with his one year tender offer contract. Here is where I make an assumption without having gone thru the whole CBA. And that assumption is that even though he is traded that he is still under a tender contract and still has the right (until a particular date) to entertain offers from other clubs and his new club now has the rights/obligations of first refusal. However, if he signs a new contract with his new club in lieu of his tender offer contract, that obviates any rights he has to entertain offers from other clubs (the same as any player under a regular contract).

    Edit: If he doesn't sign the tender contract, he can't play for anybody until after the 10th week. Then he has a few days to sign a contract with another team and if he doesn't get such a contract, he is out of football for that year.

    Edit: My original comment was correct. If he doesn't sign with his current club, he can't play for anybody. And as of the tenth week of the season, if he hasn't signed he can't play for the rest of the season even with his current club.
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2007
  7. arrellbee

    arrellbee Rookie

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    If he doesn't sign the tender, I don't believe he has any options to sign any other contract at all (eg restricted free agent) until the tenth week of the season (and then he has only a few days to sign a contract with another team or he cannot play during that league year at all). Do you have some reference that says that this is incorrect ??

    Edit: I was wrong. He doesn't even have any window to sign with another club. If he doesn't sign by the tenth week with his present club, he simply does not play for the year.
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2007
  8. Metaphors

    Metaphors Rookie

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    I don't believe it works this way. I think it works like the franchise tag. It counts against the cap immediately but is not a binding, guaranteed contract until it is signed. Once it is signed, it is a guaranteed contract and any free agent rights are lost. Like the frachise tag, an RFA tender can be withdrawn at any point until it is signed (making him a UFA).

    That being said, I have no idea what happens if a player doesn't get an offer from another team by the end of the RFA period but refuses to sign his tender. His rights are owned by his old team but he has no contract. I guess it would be like a draft pick that refuses to sign. It would make no sense to get to this point since the player would have no leverage to improve his contract situation.
  9. TealSox

    TealSox Guest

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    So you think that the Union gets involved and Welker is back to being a RFA. Only he is a RFA of the Patriots and not the Dolphins. So Then the Welker gets offers and the Patriots fail to match and get another teams second round pick.

    That ain't going to happen....

    All I know is that there was talk about the first round tender to Michael Turner of the Chargers. It was said that if the Jets really wanted him, a lesser compensation could be arranged for Turner rather than the first round pick and the third round pick. I don't see what the fuss is about unless Welker feels ripped off. If we are going to have a disgruntle receiver, I would had hoped it to be Moss.
  10. arrellbee

    arrellbee Rookie

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    No, I don't think you are correct:

    .....................
    That seems pretty clear. He signs a tender/contract with his current club or doesn't play.
  11. AdamJT13

    AdamJT13 Rookie

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    Are you trying to claim that an RFA can't sign with another club? That's not correct. He can sign an offer sheet with any club until April 20 (this season). The team he was on then has seven days to match the offer.

    After April 20, he can't sign with any other teams, unless the original club's tender is withdrawn.
  12. NE39

    NE39 Rookie

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    That makes sense, but media reports seem to eliminate that possibility:

  13. PatsFaninAZ

    PatsFaninAZ Rookie

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    Well, it's kind of semantics, but a restricted free agent who is tendered has three options -- (1) he can sign with any other club, (2) he can accept his qualifying offer, or (3) he can do neither and basically hold out for 10 weeks. (He also can accept his qualifying offer with the understanding that he contract will then be renogiated or he will be traded to another team that will regnegotiate.)

    The "restricted" means that if he takes option number 1 and signs with another club, it gives his prior team certain rights -- specifically, an ROFR and compensation depending on the player's year and the level of the qualifying offer.

    I don't really understand what you're getting at with trying to say that he's not free to sign with another club. As I said, I think it's semantics when you're talking about the rights of the prior club, but the CBA is very clear in its first paragraph that an RFA is entirely free to negotiate and sign with another club, at which the burden goes back to the prior club to decide whether it wants to exercise its ROFR. If the prior club does nothing in seven days, the offer sheet becomes a formal contract between the player and the new club.

    Anyway, I think paragraph one of the CBA on restricted free agents answers your question entirely: "Any Veteran Player with three or more Accrued Seasons, but less than five Accrued Seasons (or less than Four Accrued Season in any Capped Year), shall, at the expiration of his last Player Contract during any such year, become a Restricted Free Agent. Any such player shall be completely free to negotiate and sign a Player Contract with any Club, and any Club shall be completely free to sign a Player Contract with any such Player, subject to the restrictions set forth in this Article."

    Again, I'm not really sure what you're driving at, but the answer to your question -- can an RFA sign with another Club -- is yes.
  14. arrellbee

    arrellbee Rookie

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    He can't take offers from other clubs UNLESS he has signed his tender offer. That's what I said and all I said and that's completely accurate.
  15. NE39

    NE39 Rookie

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    I think that is backwards. Once he signs his tender offer it becomes a 1 Yr contract with his new team, and he can't entertain any outside offers because he is under contract. The team can trade him, just like any other player under contract, but he can't shop his services elsewhere anymore.

    If he hasn't signed his tender, then he can entertain offers from other teams up until April 20. If he signs an offer sheet with another team his old team has a week to match. He ends up with either his old team or the team that signed him to the offer sheet with a new contract per the terms of the offer. If he goes to the new team then the old team gets compensation if any is called for.

    After April 20 he can't sign with anyone else and he either has to sign the tender if he wants to play. He doesn't have any FA options at that point.
  16. Metaphors

    Metaphors Rookie

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    That is what everyone is disagreeing with. Tenders can be withdrawn. Once signed, a tender is supposed to be a guaranteed 1-year contract. Not much of a guarantee if it can be withdrawn. For example:
    1. I get a 2nd round tender and I sign it so I can take offers from other teams
    2. I look for other offers but get none
    3. Just before April 20th, my existing team decides they need the cap room and withdraws the tender.

    This scenario make no sense to me. I don't see anything in your quotes from the CBA that back up your contention that you need to sign your tender to shop your services to other teams.
  17. arrellbee

    arrellbee Rookie

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    I stand corrected. I was wrong and you, of course, are correct. He doesn't have to sign the tender offer. That his current team has made a (proper) tender offer is what gives that team Right of First Refusal and compensation rights. Apologies for muddying the water.

    Thanks also NE39 and Metaphors and apologies also.
    Edit: And to PatsFaninAZ also.
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2007

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