It’s time for “March Madness!” And no, I do not mean the college basketball NCAA tournament. I am talking about the month of March and how important it is to the NFL and it’s players.
Here is a look at what takes place in the month of March; specifically, March 12, 2013.
Beginning on March 9 and running through March 11, NFL clubs are permitted to enter into contract negotiations with certified agents of players who will be Unrestricted Free Agents at the end of the current League Year. Unrestricted free agents are players without a team. They have either been released from their club, or had the term of their contract expire without a renewal. These players, generally speaking, are free to entertain offers from all other teams and to decide with whom to sign a new contract.
The real madness begins officially on March 12. There are seven different and important events that take place that day and evening.
First and foremost, prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, clubs must exercise options for 2013 on all players who have option clauses in their 2012 contracts. Also prior to 4:00 p.m., clubs must submit Qualifying Offers to their Restricted Free Agents with expiring contracts and to whom they desire to retain a Right of First Refusal/Compensation.
A restricted free agent is a player that is free to solicit offers from other teams for new contracts. However, before this player is allowed to sign with the new club, the current club has a chance to match the terms of the new contract, in which case the player must remain with the original team. However, if the original team decides not to match the other team’s offer for the restricted free agent, the new team provides some number of draft selections to the original team as compensation for losing the player.
Another important thing to take note of on March 12, 2013 is that prior to 4:00 p.m., clubs must submit a minimum salary offer to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with expiring 2012 contracts and who have fewer than three seasons of free agency credit.
All 2012 player contracts will expire at 4:00 p.m. on March 12, 2013. Then the “Top-51″ begins. All clubs must be under the Salary Cap prior to 4:00 p.m, when the 2013 League Year and Free Agency period officially begin. The NFL trading period also begins on March 12 (at – you guessed it – 4p.m.) for 2013 after expiration of all 2012 contracts.
The NFL will also hold their Annual League Meeting at The Biltmore in Phoenix, Arizona from March 17-20th.
So as we enter into the month of March, let the craziness begin. Hold on tight – there will be no doubt be some shocking or head-scratching moves made around the league.
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