The following NFL football glossary and links may be helpful to those who are seeking answers to common football questions:
Accrued Seasons Calculation: A player shall receive one Accrued Season for each season during which he was on, or should have been on, full pay status for a total of six or more regular season games, but which, irrespective of the player’s pay status, shall not include games for which the player was on: (i) the Exempt Commissioner Permission List, (ii) the Reserve PUP List as a result of a non-football injury, or (iii) a Club’s Practice Squad.
Exclusive Rights Player: A player with less than three Accrued Seasons whose contract has expired but who has received the required tender. Tendered Exclusive Rights Free Agents cannot sign with other teams unless the tender is revoked.
Restricted Free Agent: A veteran who has three Accrued Seasons and who completes performance of his player contract, but who is still subject to a right of first refusal and/or draft choice compensation in favor of his prior club. Restricted free agents can be tendered at one of four levels: right of first refusal only (no draft pick compensation), right of first refusal and draft compensation at player’s original draft round, right of first refusal and second round draft compensation, and right of first refusal and first round draft compensation.
Unrestricted Free Agent: A veteran with four or more Accrued Seasons, who has completed performance of his player contract, and who is no longer subject to any exclusive negotiating rights, right of first refusal, or draft choice compensation in favor of his prior club. Unrestricted free agents are free to sign with any team.
Franchise Tag: Designation a team may apply to a player scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. The tag binds the player to the team for one year if certain conditions are met. Each team may only designate one player each year as that team’s franchise player. An “exclusive” franchise player must be offered a one-year contract for an amount no less than the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position as of a date in April of the current year in which the tag will apply, or 120 percent of the player’s previous year’s salary, whichever is greater. Exclusive franchise players cannot negotiate with other teams. A “non-exclusive” franchise player must be offered a one-year contract for the average of the five largest prior year salaries for players at the position or 120 percent of his prior year salary, whichever is greater. A non-exclusive franchise player may negotiate with other NFL teams, but if he signs an offer sheet from another team, the original team has a right to match the terms of that offer, or if it does not match the offer and thus loses the player, is entitled to receive two first-round draft picks as compensation.
Transition Tag: Designation a team may apply to a player scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. It guarantees the original club the right of first refusal to match any offer the player may make with another team. The transition tag can be used once a year by each club. A transition player must be offered a one-year contract for an amount no less than the average of the top 10 salaries of last season at the player’s position or 120 percent of the player’s previous year’s salary, whichever is greater. A transition player designation gives the club a first-refusal right to match within seven days an offer sheet given to the player by another club. If the club matches, it retains the player. If it does not match, it receives no compensation.
Compensatory Draft Picks: In addition to the 32 picks in each round of the NFL Draft, there are a total of 32 picks awarded at the ends of Rounds 3 through 7. These picks, known as “compensatory picks,” are awarded to teams that have lost more qualifying free agents than they gained the previous year in free agency. Teams that gain and lose the same number of players but lose higher-valued players than they gain also can be awarded a pick, but only in the seventh round, after the other compensatory picks. Compensatory picks cannot be traded, and the placement of the picks is determined by a proprietary formula based on the player’s salary, playing time, and postseason honors with his new team, with salary being the primary factor. Compensatory picks are awarded each year at the NFL annual meeting which is held at the end of March; typically, about three or four weeks before the draft.
Practice Squad: Each NFL team may keep up to eight members on its “practice squad” in addition to the 53-member main roster. The Practice Squad shall consist of the following players, provided that they have not served more than two previous seasons on a Practice Squad: (i) players who do not have an Accrued Season of NFL experience; and (ii) free agent players who were on the Active List for fewer than nine regular season games during their only Accrued Season. An otherwise eligible player may be a Practice Squad player for a third season only if the Club by which he is employed that season has at least 53 players on its Active/Inactive List during the entire period of his employment. A player shall be deemed to have served on a Practice Squad in a season if he has passed the club’s physical and been a member of the club’s Practice Squad for at least three regular season or postseason games during his first two Practice Squad seasons, and for at least one regular season or postseason game during his third Practice Squad season.
2014-15 Practice Squad Addendum: The NFL and the NFL Players Association have agreed to expand NFL Practice Squads for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Absent an extension of the agreement, the current rules will be reinstated beginning with the 2016 season. Under the agreement, 2014 and 2015 Practice Squads will increase from the current maximum of eight players to 10 players. In addition, the criteria for Practice Squad eligibility has been expanded in two respects. First, a player must have a minimum of six games – up from the current three games – on a Practice Squad in order for that season to count as one of the player’s three permissible seasons of Practice Squad service. Second, each club will be permitted to sign a maximum of two Practice Squad players who have earned no more than two accrued seasons of free agency credit. Absent this exception, a player who has earned one or more accrued seasons would not be eligible for a Practice Squad unless the player spent fewer than nine games on a club’s 46-player active list in each of his accrued seasons. All other practice squad rules under Article 33 of the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement will remain in effect during the 2014 and 2015 seasons.