NFL has 13 restricted free agents, whose teams can match any offer
The vast majority of free agents are unrestricted free agents, who can leave for any team. But 13 players became restricted free agents today, and leaving is not so simple for them.
For free agents who have not yet accrued enough NFL seasons to qualify for unrestricted free agency, their teams can make them restricted free agents by tendering offers that the player can choose to sign and stay with his team. This year, 13 players got such offers.
If the player chooses not to sign the tender, he can shop himself to other teams. But if he signs with another team, his original team can match that offer. And depending on the level he was tendered at, the original team can get a draft pick from the team that signs the restricted free agent away.
The highest tender offer available for a restricted free agent is a one-year, $6.005 million contract. If a player gets that tender offer, any team signing him away would have to give his original team a first-round draft pick. That almost never happens, and did not happen this year.
The next-highest tender offer is a one-year, $4.304 million contract. If a player gets that tender offer, a team signing him away would have to give his original team a second-round draft pick. Five players got those offers this year: Cowboys offensive tackle Terence Steele, Packers offensive tackle Yosuah Nijman, Jets defensive end Bryce Huff, Titans guard Aaron Brewer and Titans defensive tackle Teair Tart.
The lowest tender offer is a one-year, $2.627 million contract. If a player gets that tender offer, a team signing him away would have to send his original team a draft pick equal to the round the player was drafted in. If the player was undrafted, there would be no draft pick compensation for signing him, although his original team could still match the offer.
This year, two restricted free agents received the lowest tender offer and will yield their original teams draft pick compensation if they are signed: Patriots offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste (third-round pick) and Bills defensive back Dane Jackson (seventh-round pick).
Six restricted free agents are available for a right of first refusal only, meaning their original teams can match any offer but don’t get draft picks if they decline to match: Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley, Chiefs punter Tommy Townsend, Patriots defensive back Myles Bryant, Seahawks defensive back Ryan Neal and Commanders defensive back Jeremy Reaves.
Restricted free agents rarely sign with other teams, so it’s likely that most of these 13 players will be back with their original teams in 2023.