Titans GM: Free Agency Will Impact Draft

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The NFL's free agency period begins at 3 p.m. today.

It will provide the Titans a big first step in rebuilding the roster for the 2016 season.

So how much will what happens in free agency dictate what happens in April's NFL Draft?

"I would say it will have a fairly substantial impact on us,'' Titans general manager Jon Robinson said. "If we can add some guys to the team in free agency that make us a more competitive football team that will allow us to, when the draft rolls around, continue to add guys who can … have an impact on the team.

"We want the most competitive 90-man roster when we get done here."

The NFL's negotiating window opened Monday morning in advance of the official start of the free agent signing period. At that time, Robinson and other NFL clubs were allowed to engage in conversations with the agents for free agents from other clubs.

Free agency signings - and trades - can become official today, the start of the new league year in the NFL.

Here's a look at some key free agency questions, and some answers…


Q.  What is the time period for free agency signings this year?

A.  For restricted free agents, from March 9 to April 22.  For unrestricted free agents who have received the May 10 tender from their prior club, from March 9 to July 22 (or the first scheduled day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is later).  For franchise players, from March 9 until the Tuesday following the 10th week of the regular season, November 15.  For transition players, from March 9 until July 22.  If the above-listed players do not sign by November 15, they must sit out the season.  


Q.  What is the difference between a restricted free agent and an unrestricted free agent?

A*.  *In the 2016 league year, players with three accrued seasons who have received a qualifying offer become restricted free agents when their contracts expire at the conclusion of the 2015 league year.  Unrestricted free agents have completed four or more accrued seasons.  An unrestricted free agent is free to sign with any club with no draft choice compensation owed to his old club.


Q.  What constitutes an "accrued season"?

A.  Six or more regular-season games on a club's active/inactive, reserved/injured or reserve/physically unable to perform lists.


*Q.  What could restrict the ability of a restricted free agent to sign with a new club? *

A.  If he has received a "qualifying offer" (a salary tender predetermined by the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and its players) from his old club.  He can negotiate with any club through April 22.  If the restricted free agent signs an offer sheet with a new club, his old club can match the offer and retain him because the qualifying offer entitles it to a "right of first refusal" on any offer sheet the player signs.  If the old club does not match the offer, it may receive draft choice compensation depending on the amount of its qualifying offer.  If an offer sheet is not executed on or before April 22, the player's negotiating rights revert exclusively to his old club.  In addition, a player who would otherwise be a restricted free agent may be designated by his old club as its franchise player or transition player.


Q.  What determines an unrestricted free agent?

A.  A player with four or more accrued seasons whose contract has expired.  He is free to sign with any club, with no draft choice compensation owed to his old club, through July 22 (or the first scheduled day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is later).  At that point, his negotiating rights revert exclusively to his old club if by May 10 the old club tendered the player a one-year contract for 110 percent of his prior year's salary.  His old club then has until the Tuesday following the 10th week of the regular season (November 15) to sign him.  If he does not sign by that date, he must sit out the season.  If no tender is offered by May 10, the player can be signed by any club at any time throughout the season.


Q.  What is the salary cap for 2016?

A.  The salary cap is $155,270,000 per club.


Q.  When must teams be in compliance with the salary cap?

A.  At the start of the 2016 league year, which begins at 3:00 p.m. CT today.


Q.  If a team is under the salary cap at the end of a given season, can the team "carry over" room to the next season?

A.  Yes.  A team may carry over room from one league year to the following league year by submitting notice to the NFL prior to 4:00 p.m. ET on the day following the team's final regular-season game, indicating the amount of room that the club wishes to carry over.


Q.  What is the maximum amount of room that a club can carry over?

A.  One hundred percent of its remaining room.

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