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. 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 can have up to 10 players on its Practice Squad. The league now allows four players per Practice Squad to have up to two accrued seasons (an accrued season means a player who was on full-pay status for six or more regular-season games on a club’s active/inactive, reserve/injured, or reserve/physically-unable-to-perform lists). Aside those four players, players on an active roster for less than six games or were a part of a 46-man active game-day roster for fewer than nine games qualify for a spot. Practice Squad players only practice with the team; they cannot play in games unless signed to the 53-man roster. Practice Squad players are free to sign with other NFL teams, but they have to be signed to the 53-man active roster of the acquiring team. A Practice Squad player cannot be signed to another team’s Practice Squad unless he is first released.