Two days left to sign restricted free agents to offer sheets


Any team interested in signing a restricted free agent to an offer sheet has only two days left to act.

Don’t hold your breath.  Or any other bodily function.

Teams simply don’t do it.  Sure, the Patriots signed receiver Emmanuel Sanders to a measly one-year offer sheet, which the Steelers matched.  Since 2010, an uncapped year in which every fourth- and fifth-year player without a contract was a restricted free agent, only one restricted free agent has changed teams.  Other than Sanders, no other offer sheet has been signed.

Whether it’s collusion or laziness or failure to appreciate the potential benefits of getting a head start on negotiating a long-term deal with a player who could be unrestricted in a year, few teams use this tool for securing young players.  As former Patriots V.P. of player personnel and former Chiefs G.M. Scott Pioli explained on Tuesday’s edition of Pro Football Talk, bringing in a restricted free agent and getting to know him and getting a feel for his long-term contractual expectations before signing him to a one-year offer sheet can become a great strategy for securing the player’s services, either now or 12 months in the future.

Still, teams don’t do it.  And it makes no sense.  With all the bravado about getting better, more teams should be spending less time talking about it and more time trying to do it by taking full advantage of the opportunity to pursue players who otherwise would be off limits.

This year, teams have two days left to act.  Given the rash of restricted free agents who have signed their one-year tenders in recent days and will remain with their current teams, it’s safe to call that possibility unlikely.

25 responses to “Two days left to sign restricted free agents to offer sheets

  1. I was really hoping the Dolphins would give one of their 2nd rounders to GB for Sam Shields. Is there a cb in the draft that can be had in the 2nd round better than Shields? None that I know of. I just dont understand why teams don’t make moves on these RFA’s. Is it a unspoken taboo of the offseason to try and sign these players?

  2. Most smart teams tender their starters 1st or 2nd round. Why the Steelers put a 3rd on Sanders? plus their Cap is a mess……Who’s running the show in Pittsburg?

  3. If the NFL wants more RFA’s signed, they need to rework the entire system. Right now, it’s simply too cheap for teams to tag their RFA’s and too expensive (in both contracts and draft picks) to sign them. Either increase the costs to the tendering team or decrease the costs for the signing team (or both).

  4. Whether it’s collusion or laziness …

    With a sensible rookie salary structure in place, maybe it’s just good common sense.

  5. Why is this still happening? They don’t wanna piss off another organization? It’s not like they won’t get anything in return.

  6. I’m sure that Mara has something to do with the “spirit” of this…

    I would love someone to sign Cruz to an offer sheet and make Giants squirm to sign him.

  7. There’s obviously a tacit agreement by coaches not to poach each other’s rfa players.

    Draft picks no matter the round are a crap shoot. Good rfas are proven players. Why wouldn’t you want a proven player as opposed to a draft pick unless you are in serious cap trouble ?

  8. Danario stays hurt. He beat out Maclin at Mizzou and got hurt. There are certain guys you pretty much know who be hurt and he is one of those guys. Has all the talent in the world and this Mizzou fan would love to see a full healthy season out of him because it could be a special season.

  9. Just look at what the Ravens got for Anquan Boldin….the BEST offer they got was a 6th rounder from San Francisco…the ONLY other offer was a 7th rounder from the Vikings. Sooo…why would any team give up a 2nd or 3rd rounder for a RFA when they covet their draft picks like the Hope Diamond.

    Its not like a Calvin Johnson or AJ Peterson were RFAs.

  10. i simply can’t believe teams collude in RFA to not sign players. Everyone has seen guys like jim harbaugh and pete carroll and john harbaugh going crazy over tiny tiny details. All these guys want to do is win, I can’t see them accepting that they’re not allowed a player because of the owners gentleman’s agreements. Doesn’t make sense to me.

  11. It makes a lot of sense not using this much. The only way it makes sense is if a player is really key to closing up a final small hole in your team, AND you have a great shot at actually getting to the Super Bowl.

    Otherwise, you are getting someone, who could be gone in a year, in exchange for giving up a draft pick, who could have been with you for the full length of their four-year rookie contract, which is usually not that expensive, relatively speaking to others at the same position.

    In either case, you get the first, early shot at negotiating an extension with them when it comes up, so that is a wash.

  12. Was it because of collusion that the Dolphins did not sign Wallace last year or was it simply that they knew he would be available this year? And without the loss of a first round draft pick.

    Signing an RFA is expensive and a stupid way to add a player to the roster. It doesn’t take collusion to figure that out.

  13. No collusion, just economics. Its the rookie salary cap that makes signing RFA’s a non-starter, more than anything else. Signing Sanders made sense to the Pats because they had both the need, the cap space and the roster, that made the move make sense….and EVEN then, there was a 50-50 split among Pats fans about this move.

    Unless a team makes mistake and undervalues a player or tries to sneak a guy by, like the Steelers did; no one is going to pay a guy a premium to the market, PLUS a high draft pick.

    That being said, I have no idea why a team doesn’t take a shot at Danario Alexander, given there wouldn’t be a draft pick involved. OTOH, a guy like Victor Cruz, as talented as he is, would be a non-starter NOONE is going to pay him the $8MM/yr he deserves, let alone the $10/MM he wants, PLUS a first round pick. No one player is worth that kind of investment. Especially when you are dealing with the reality that he could go down for the season in TC

  14. RFAs are too expensive and draft picks are more economical. It’s called the free market not collusion. As in Basic Free Market Economics, not collusion. Glorious is a typical Marxist/socialist. Get and Econ book then get back to me.

  15. Pioli could not spot talent if his life depended on it. His style of team management is so off the mark as it showed in Kansas City with the Chiefs. I wouldn’t put much credence with his opinion.

  16. “If the NFL wants more RFA’s signed, they need to rework the entire system. Right now, it’s simply too cheap for teams to tag their RFA’s and too expensive (in both contracts and draft picks) to sign them. Either increase the costs to the tendering team or decrease the costs for the signing team (or both).”

    The NFL never wanted free agency to begin with. The UNION did. So if the UNION wants changes that would make restricted free agency more open, then they had better be prepared to make concessions on something else. Maybe something like reducing the ridiculous pay scale applied when a team uses the franchise tag.

  17. Collusion can’t be it. The damages in a collusion suit would be enormous, and there would be a ton of suits that get filed as soon as one is proved in court. It could not be worth it. The way it is structured must be the culprit. A player like Sanders or maybe Dennis Pitta sees big money in one year. They will gladly take more than their tender for one year on a good team, but going to a team where their stats will probably suffer or signing a multiyear deal is out of the question. What do they have to gain? They all have exaggerated ideas of how much they’ll get as UFAs anyway.

  18. There are many reasons why RFA’s won’t get offers:

    #1 – Draft picks are like gold as you have a shot at a guy who can play at a $5M level for $1M a year for several years.

    #2 – Anyone worthwhile will be resigned by the original team. Take Sam Shields for example. If a team offered say 4 years 24M, that would be an extremely lucrative offer for someone that has played nickle mostly. However, the Packers have the cap room to match. And even if they didn’t have the cap room, they could probably cut/restructure older players to make room for him.

    #3 – You have to tie up your $$ while you wait for the other team to match. So while other FA’s are in play, there’s not really much point to pursue these guys.

    #4 – I’m not sure there will be any benefit to trying to use this as a vehicle to negotiate a long term deal down the road. If I tell E. Sanders that I will be willing to pay him X amount next year, all that will happen is that his agent will use that to jack up the price for other teams next year.

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