Could other RFAs follow Zachary Orr’s lead?

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Linebacker Zachary Orr’s decision to try to play football in 2017 was an unexpected one based on his January announcement that he was halting his playing career because of a neck injury and the timing of that announcement has left him as an unrestricted free agent at this point in the offseason.

That probably would not have been the case had Orr waited a little longer to share his initial plan for the future. Just before Orr announced his “retirement,” there was a report that he and the Ravens were discussing a long-term contract and, failing that, Orr was set to be a restricted free agent who likely would have received a tender offer from Baltimore.

As a source with knowledge of the situation told PFT, the team did not do that because Orr said he was retiring. The source also asked “what would stop [another] player from doing that to escape” restricted free agency?

Players could try it, but the Ravens or another team could shut the loophole by simply tendering them at the lowest level regardless of their stated desire to stop playing. The player might not sign the tender, but if they aren’t going to play for another team because their original club would still hold onto their rights if they file retirement paperwork from the league.

The Ravens didn’t do that in this case, which may mean Orr winds up playing somewhere else in 2017 and should mean that teams approach any similar situations differently in the future.

9 responses to “Could other RFAs follow Zachary Orr’s lead?

  1. The thing that makes me wonder if it was a ploy or not is his stated preference to go back to playing for the Ravens if possible.
    I faced something that was the opposite of him growing up. I was born with 2 crookedly fused vertebrae in my neck and the doctors made it sound like I couldn’t play sports, especially contact sports. It wasn’t until I was about to graduate High school that the doctor said, ‘Oh, there’s no danger, they were fully fused since birth and there never was any danger from a hit ot anything.”

  2. I mean, you answered your own question. Teams will just start tendering them no matter what so that they keep the players rights if they return.

  3. What a great way to hit free agency a year early.

    What a bonehead move by the Ravens for not seeing this coming.

    At the same time, taking advantage of a loophole could have it’s disadvantages… teams weary of him looking for other loopholes might lower his price tag.

  4. Clearly this is a shakedown he played 3 years on a rookie deal. Now he’s looking for one big pay day before he gets seriously hurt. Orr could be paralyzed with one hit. Don’t forget he still needs to pass an NFL physical before a team signs him. Just because his doctor cleared him doesn’t mean a team specialist will. Remember Chris Bosh.

  5. There is no way he planned this. If so, he would have unretired a while ago when teams still had money. If he was working on a long-term deal it makes no sense to do this. At best he’ll get a one- or two-year deal and have to sign an injury waiver like Dennis Pitta did stating that if he got hurt because of this condition he could be cut and the Ravens would not have to have his salary on the books for the year.

  6. Why would Orr retire right before signing a fairly lucrative extension? Faking a serious sounding injury is not the way to maximise your next contract. This whole plot has more holes than the Colts run D.

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