The 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement makes restricted free agency less important than it used to be, because all rookie contracts now have a base duration of four years. As a result, restricted free agency becomes relevant only when an undrafted player finishes three years of service, or when a drafted player is cut before the completion of three years and has a contract that expires following his third accrued season.
It’s still an important aspect of the process, especially when quality players become legible for restricted free agency.
Restricted free agents can be held in place through the application of one of three tenders. The lowest level provides a right or first refusal. The second-round tender provides a right of first refusal and (duh) a second-round pick as compensation if the original team doesn’t match. The first-round tender carries a right of first refusal and a first-round pick as compensation.
This year, the tender amounts are $1.671 million, $2.553 million, and $3.635 million, respectively.
Arguably the biggest name this year in the RFA class belongs to Broncos running back C.J. Anderson. When the market opens on Wednesday, he’s expected to draw significant interest, given that Denver opted to save roughly $900,000 by not tying a second-round pick to Anderson.