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.