NFL Free Agency Newsletter – March 2018
Draft Insiders’ Digest – 27th Season
“The NFL Draft Publication Pro Scouts Buy”
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Important Dates 2018 pg. 1 Free Agency – Salary Cap Per Team pgs. 2-3
NFL Salary Cap pg. 1 Top 125 Free Agents pgs. 4-9
Free Agency Player Tags pg. 2
Important NFL 2018 Dates
February 20 – First day for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players.
Feb 27-March 5 – NFL Combine Timing and Testing, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, In.
March 6 – Prior to 4:00 p.m., NY time, deadline for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players.
March 12-14 – During the period beginning at 12 noon, New York time, on March 12th and ending at 3:59:59 p.m., New York time, on March 14th, clubs are permitted to contact, and enter into contract negotiations with, the certified agents of players who will become Unrestricted Free Agents upon the expiration of their 2017 player contracts at 4:00 p.m., New York time, on March 14. However, a contract cannot be executed with a new club until 4:00 p.m., New York time, on March 14.
During the above two-day negotiating period, no direct contact is permitted between a prospective unrestricted free agent and any employee or representative of a club, other than the player’s current club.
March 14 – The 2018 League Year and Free Agency period begin at 4:00 p.m., New York time.
The first day of the 2018 League Year will end at 11:59:59 p.m., New York time, on March 14. Clubs will receive a personnel notice that will include all transactions submitted to the League office during the period between 4:00 p.m., New York time, and 11:59:59 p.m., New York time, on March 14.
March 14 – Trading period for 2018 begins at 4:00 p.m. est time, after expiration of all 2017 contracts.
March 25-28 – Annual League Meeting, Orlando, Florida.
April 2 – Clubs that hired a new head coach after the end of the 2017 regular season may begin offseason workout programs.
April 16 – Clubs with returning head coaches may begin offseason workout programs.
April 20 – Deadline for Restricted Free Agents to sign Offer Sheets.
April 25 – Deadline for prior club to exercise Right of First Refusal to Restricted Free Agents.
**** NFL Draft 2018 – April 26-28 ****
Thurs thru Saturday – Dallas will host at ATT Stadium in Arlington Texas
Trades to be Announced When Free Agency Begins March 14th
For all the Trades for the NFL Draft 2018 go to www.draftinsiders.com
Buffalo and Cincinnati swapped the 12th and 21st picks OT Cordy Glenn
Buffalo from LA Rams for WR Sammy Watkins
Kansas City #3 and CB Kendall Fuller from Washington for QB Alex Smith
Buffalo from Cleveland for QB Tyrod Taylor
Miami from Cleveland thru Philadelphia for WR Jarvis Landry
LA Rams from NY Giants for LB Alec Ogletree
Kansas City from LA Rams for CB Marcus Peters
Cleveland and Green Bay swap 4th round picks for a swap of QB DShoneKizer & CB Damarius Randall
Seattle from Philadelphia for DE Michael Bennett
Cleveland and Green Bay swap 5th round picks for QB DeShone Kizer & CB Damarius Randall
Denver from LA Rams for CB Aqib Talib
LA Rams from Kansas City for CB Marcus Peters
Cincinnati from Buffalo for OT Cordy Glenn and swap of #1 picks
LA Rams from Buffalo for WR Sammy Watkins
LA Rams from NY Giants for LB Alec Ogletree
Buffalo from Cincinnati for OT Cordy Glenn
Philadelphia from Seattle for DE Michael Bennett
NFL Team Salary Cap Space –
NFL announced that the 2018 salary cap will be $177.2 million per team. The number represents a nearly $10 million increase over the 2017 number which was $12 million over the 2016 salary cap. Since 2012, the cap has increased by nearly $57 million per team. The salary cap figure has ballooned in recent years as the effects of new bulging television deals are being figured into the amount. The total has jumped over $33 million each of the past three seasons. Though this is the 5th straight year the salary cap has increased by at least $10 million, the 6.11% increase is the smallest increase for the cap from year to year since 2013.
Under the collective bargaining agreement, teams are required to spend an average of 89 percent of the salary cap from 2013 to 2017. League-wide, teams must spend an average of 95 percent of the salary cap over the four-year period.
This new money boosts many clubs into a higher bracket that could produce a buying frenzy in the opening weeks starting March 14th. The salary cap per team below is a fluctuating total according to ongoing roster moves – resignings, releases and restructuring of current players. The new totals should guarantee a heavily active Free Agent market thru the spring.
Several teams will enter the free-agent market on March 14 with large chunks of cap space available.
Per OverTheCap.com – based on a $177.2 million projection with additional cap carry over where applicable –
These teams began the free agency period with the highest available money prior to the official signings.
Official Franchise Tags – Salary cap 2018 – $177.2M
Franchise Tag Salary Numbers for each position
2018 Franchise Tag Values
Position Tender Amount
Running back $11,866,000
Wide receiver $15,982,000
Tight end $9,846,000
Offensive lineman $14,077,000
Defensive end $17,143,000
Defensive tackle $13,939,000
2018 Salary Cap by Team – numbers change with each new signing and conditions
Approximate $$$$ entering Free Agency Period
Base Salary Cap Per team: $177.2M
Team Cap Space/Effective Cap/Active Cap/ Dead Money
Jets $89,879,171 $89,879,171 $89,481,136 $13,918,337
Browns $82,752,946 $82,752,946 $144,619,305 $13,271,875
Colts $71,967,822 $71,967,822 $119,144,551 $1,800,217
Bucs $68,724,951 $68,724,951 $124,820,699 $814,506
49ers $67,235,420 $67,235,420 $153,359,279 $15,804,569
Texans $65,723,753 $65,723,753 $124,298,577 $1,703,233
Titans $58,634,443 $58,634,443 $147,754,138 $1,713,913
Vikings $44,553,005 $44,553,005 $144,833,744 $654,816
Bears $44,508,690 $44,508,690 $135,868,009 $4,466,716
Bills $36,668,043 $36,668,043 $115,196,340 $35,959,288
Jaguars $32,990,537 $32,990,537 $173,825,992 $3,938,137
Rams $31,182,571 $31,182,571 $140,125,478 $7,787,112
Saints $30,683,864 $30,683,864 $130,483,541 $14,065,970
Broncos $29,911,221 $29,911,221 $156,254,978 $2,369,241
Redskins $29,018,903 $29,018,903 $148,923,164 $862,496
Seahawks $27,578,600 $24,698,600 $136,149,444 $13,887,715
Lions $27,205,960 $27,205,960 $147,635,207 $6,436,899
Chiefs $25,689,521 $25,689,521 $137,915,393 $14,422,831
Raiders $25,384,780 $25,384,780 $154,447,351 $2,018,441
Bengals $24,207,668 $24,207,668 $163,485,187 $632,363
Panthers $24,034,669 $24,034,669 $152,702,495 $6,762,702
Patriots $21,258,834 $21,258,834 $155,761,332 $2,590,423
Giants $20,489,984 $20,489,984 $153,461,632 $3,478,255
Packers $20,292,391 $20,292,391 $158,518,921 $5,722,756
Chargers $19,814,223 $19,814,223 $154,571,847 $4,723,657
Cardinals $19,605,613 $19,605,613 $151,172,859 $7,298,489
Falcons $9,371,931 $8,891,931 $161,768,492 $4,878,535
Ravens $5,557,794 $5,557,794 $167,175,718 $3,133,338
Cowboys $3,042,438 $3,042,438 $167,287,215 $14,811,112
Dolphins $1,927,416 $1,927,416 $171,720,850 $3,026,688
Steelers ($2,838,985) ($2,838,985) $182,751,661 $956,175
Eagles ($9,871,265) ($9,871,265) $187,127,033 $736,941
NFL 2017 Salary Cap – Franchise/ Transitional Tags
The NFL salary cap figures list Franchise non-exclusive and transition tags. Non-exclusive players must be tendered a one-year deal no less than the listed amount for their position, which is determined by the average of the top five salaries at their position. With the non-exclusive tag, the current team has the right to match any offer or get two 1st round choices in return. An exclusive Franchise tag ties him to his current team at a higher but undetermined price for one season. Both sides can continue to negotiate on a longer deal even after a franchise tag has been applied.
NFL teams had until March 6th to designate either franchise or transitional tags. The transition tag is created by averaging the top 10 salaries at one position.
How is the Salary Cap calculated?
The Salary Cap is based on a complicated calculation that measures the league’s revenue (or certain revenues) and then apportions around 48% of that revenue to player costs. That player cost number is comprised of two components – (1) player benefits and (2) player salaries. The player salaries portion is what we are talking about when we refer to the Salary Cap. For instance, in 2011, the overall Player Cost number was $142M, while the Salary Cap was $120.375M. The difference between those numbers was the player benefits amount.
Team /Franchise Player
* The formula for the exclusive-rights tag is the same as it was in the old collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and its players. The franchise figure for QBs in 2016 is $19.95 million.
The cost for any signing club for a franchised player with the non-exclusive tag would be two first-round picks, and the current club would hold the right to match the offer.
NFL Free Agency 2018 – ‘New Money for Free Agency Period’
NFL Free Agency 2018 period opens on Wednesday March 14th at 4 pm. There is a three-day window for negotiations available from Monday morning thru Wednesday that gave clubs an opportunity to talk to agents about upcoming Free Agents to see if they are interested in their club and approximate contract dollars. They cannot sign until Wednesday March 14th at 4 pm, but it gives teams some guidelines about which players are interested in signing. Teams can talk to the player or have visits to their facilities. This initial free agency period is part of the new collective bargaining agreement that was signed in the 2012 summer. The new salary cap was raised to $177.2 million per team that clubs must comply with by the opening of the new NFL year on March 14th. Teams can sign their own free agents now as well as restructure player contracts to create salary cap room.
The week prior to the opening of Free Agency creates a group of ‘New Street Free Agents’ of veteran players who are usually due large bonuses and higher salary for the upcoming season. Many veterans have been and will continue to be released through the early weeks with bonus clauses in upcoming contracts locked into specific dates. These ’Street’ free agents have become a core part of the Free Agency movement in recent years with many big names players hitting the open market after being released by teams. This year expect many new high profile veterans to join the open market as ‘Street” free agents, though none is expected to make the headlines like Peyton Manning did a few years ago. He signed with the Broncos and made a significant impact on their offense winning the AFC West annually and completed his career with a victory in Super Bowl XL.
This year NFL teams will have $177.2 million cap number to work with a huge $10 million increase over the 2017 cap. This was an increase of over $35 million over 2013 cap year. The 2011 salary cap was $120.375 million with the 2012 cap slightly above at $120.6 million.
NFL Veterans Released – ‘Street Free Agents’
Many veteran players have been released with bonus clauses due on their current contracts. These veteran players are ‘Street Free Agents’ and allowed to sign with any of the 32 NFL teams with no compensation due to the former club. They can sign prior to the FA market if a vested veteran.
Free Agency Labels
UFA (Unrestricted free agent)
Player with four or more accrued seasons whose contract has expired.
RFA (Restricted free agent)
Player with at least three accrued seasons whose contract has expired.
EFA (Exclusive restricted FA)
Player whose contract expires at a time when he has fewer than three accrued seasons.
Franchise – Free agent who has been designated as a franchise player.
Released – Vested veteran whose contract has been terminated and can sign with any club.
NFL Free Agency 2018 – Top 125 Players
Free Agents – Unrestricted & ‘Street’ –
Exclusive Franchise Players
Le’Veon Bell RB – Steelers
Franchise Non-exclusive Players
DeMarcus Lawrence DE – Cowboys
Ezekiel Ansah DE – Lions
Lamarcus Joyner DB – Rams
Jarvis Landry WR – Dolphins
Kyle Fuller CB – Bears
NFL Free Agency 2017 – Top 125 Players
Free Agents – Unrestricted & ‘Street’ –
Franchise & Transitional Players not included
Rank/ Player/ New Team
1 Kirk Cousins – signed with Vikings
2 Drew Brees – resigned with Saints
3 Allen Robinson – signed with Bears
4 Sammy Watkins – signed with Chiefs
5 Andrew Norwell – signed with Jaguars
6 Case Keenum – signed with Broncos
7 Trumaine Johnson – signed with Jets
8 Nda Shu
9 Sam Bradford – signed with Cardinals
10 Malcolm Butler – signed with Titans
11 Nate Solder – signed with Giants
12 Dontari Poe
13 Eric Reid
14 Weston Richburg – signed with 49ers
15 Zach Brown
16 Bashaud Breeland – signed with Panthers
17 Kenny Vaccaro
18 Muhammad Wilkerson – signed with Packers
19 Carlos Hyde – signed with Browns
20 Jimmy Graham – signed with Packers
21 Sheldon Richardson
22 Teddy Bridgewater – signed with Jets
23 Nigel Bradham – resigned with Eagles
24 Morgan Burnett
25 Justin Pugh
26 Dion Lewis – signed with Titans
27 Star Lotulelei – signed with Bills
28 Jerick McKinnon – signed with 49ers
29 Paul Richardson – signed with Redskins
30 E.J. Gaines
31 AJ McCarron – signed with Bills
32 Richard Sherman – signed with 49ers
33 Marqise Lee
34 Avery Williamson
35 Jack Mewhort
36 Tyler Eifert
37 Jordan Matthews
38 Anthony Hitchens – signed with Chiefs
39 DaQuan Jones
40 Trey Burton – signed with Bears
41 Morris Claiborne
42 Terrelle Pryor
43 Tahir Whitehead
44 Brent Grimes – resigned with Bucs
45 Doug Martin
46 Preston Brown
47 Isaiah Crowell – signed with Jets
48 Patrick Robinson – resigned with Saints
49 Demario Davis
50 Ryan Jensen
51 Prince Amukamara
52 John Brown
53 Sean Smith
54 Tre Boston
55 Aaron Colvin – signed with Texans
56 Tamba Hali
57 Josh Sitton
58 Austin Seferian-Jenkins
59 Donte Moncrief
60 Tyrann Mathieu
61 Adrian Clayborn
62 Jeremy Maclin
63 Trent Murphy – signed with Bills
64 Kyle Williams
65 Mike Wallace
66 Dominique Easley
67 NaVorro Bowman
68 Josh Kline – resigned with Titans
69 Cody Latimer
70 Haloti Ngata
71 Danny Amendola – signed with Dolphins
72 Jerrell Freeman
73 Eric Decker
74 Dominique Rogers-Cromartie
75 Rex Burkhead – resigned with Patriots
76 Jordy Nelson
77 Todd Davis
78 Kareem Martin
79 Kony Ealy
80 T.J. Ward
81 William Hayes
82 Martellus Bennett
83 Cameron Fleming
84 T.J. Carrie
85 Bennie Logan
86 LeGarrette Blount
87 Travis Swanson
88 Taylor Gabriel
89 Mike Glennon – signed with Cardinals
90 Julius Peppers – resigned with Panthers
91 Luke Joeckel
92 Josh McCown – resigned with Jets
93 Tavon Wilson – resigned with Lions
94 Chris Hubbard – signed with Browns
95 Jeremy Hill
96 Avery Williamson – signed with Jets
97 Eric Ebron
98 Pernell McPhee
99 DeMarco Murray
100 Alex Okafor
101 Xavier Su’a-Filo
102 Aaron Lynch
103 Troy Niklas
104 Johnathan Joseph
105 Derrick Johnson
106 John Sullivan
107 Jonathan Stewart – signed with Giants
108 Matt Slauson
109 Senio Kelemete
110 Frank Gore
111 Greg Robinson
112 Jay Cutler
113 Lamarr Houston
114 Brian Cushing
115 Wesley Johnson
116 Kevin Minter
117 Davon Kinnard – signed with Lions
118 Barkevious Mingo
119 Kendall Wright
120 Luke Willson
121 Darren Sproles
122 Connor Barwin
123 Jeff Janis
124 Rashaan Melvin
125 Tyvon Branch
NFL Free Agency
Unrestricted Free Agents – Players with four or more seasons in the league and their contract has expired. They can sign with any club with no compensation.
Restricted Free Agents – Players with three seasons in the league and whose contract has expired. Current team can extend one of three qualifying offers. It guarantees the current club compensation from the player new team. Few restricted free agents have switched clubs in the past twenty years due to the compensation given to the losing club. Clubs have changed their thinking related to restricted free agents and several teams have made this market an area to explore with several offers in recent years. Clubs feel that if they cannot get a comparable player with their draft selection they are better trading the pick for a player who has a track record in the NFL. Bidding clubs have constructed contracts that force the existing club to pay a huge amount of the contract upfront known as the “Poison pill” and has forced their hand to accept minimal compensation or not match the offer.
Exclusive Rights Free Agents – Players with one or two seasons. They cannot move if their current club tenders them at the required NFL minimums. This year 7 Franchise labeled players were designated. Only two exclusive free agent QB Kirk Cousins and RB LeVeon Bell are restricted to negotiate with only their current club. The current club can retain non exclusive free agent if they match any offers or receiving compensation via trade or get multiple draft picks.
Free Agency Labels – Each club is allowed to use one franchise label. They do not have to use the label in any year. This label can apply to unrestricted, restricted or signed players. The label stays with a player the duration of his contract unless the club removes it for the purpose of trading or releasing him.
Franchise Label – The player with this label is guaranteed the average salary of the five highest paid players at his position or 120% of his previous season’s salary. If the player’s original club waives its right of first refusal, allowing the franchise player to leave, they will get high picks from the signing team. The new signing teams are asked to pay a huge price in draft picks that has certainly hindered any movement of these players if tendered by the current team.
Frank Coyle has published Draft Insiders’ Digest for 27 years
www.draftinsiders.com Publication and Web Site