As the end of the current league year approaches this weekend and free agency looms, the Bills and the rest of the NFL have decisions to make about many players who have less than six years of experience on an NFL roster. This Thursday is the deadline to tag Exclusive Rights Free Agents (ERFA, those with less than three years experience) and Restricted Free Agents (RFAs, those with less than six). For the first time ever there are different levels of resitricted free agency, though, as the uncapped year rules comes into effect. Here's how it affects some Bills currently on the roster (tender figures courtesy BuffaloBills.com).
Players with one or two years of experience
Marcus Buggs, Jon Corto, Christian Gaddis, Justice Hairston, Cary Harris, Jonathan Stupar
These players are what you consider Exclusive Rights Free Agents. They signed a one or two-year contract as undrafted or regular free agents and that contract has expired. If the Bills offer the player a new contract for the league minimum the player cannot sign with another team. The league minimum for 2010 is $325k.
Players with three years of experience
Derek Schouman and Jonathan Scott
These players entered the league in 2007 NFL draft but signed a three year or shorter contract. Schouman was a seventh-round selection and Scott a fifth. Hypothetically, if the Bills sign one of the players to a second-round tender, another team could beat the Bills contract offer. In that case the Bills could match the offer or opt to take the second-round pick of the new team. Original round refers to when the player was originally drafted.
Tenders for RFAs with three years experience
Original draft pick tender (round in which player was selected) - $1.101M
Second-round tender - $1.684M
First-round tender - $2.396M
First and third-round tender - $3.043M
Keith Ellison, Gibran Hamdan, Richie Incognito, Joe Klopfenstein, George Wilson and Ashton Youboty
The 2006 NFL draft produced some players Buffalo might certainly want to keep around. Ellison was a sixth-rounder, Youboty and Incognito were third-round selections, Klopfenstein was drafted in the second round, and Wilson and Hamdan were both undrafted signees. If the Bills signed one of them to the lowest tender a team could beat the Bills offer and they would get nothing in return.
Tenders for RFAs with four years experience
Original draft pick tender - $1.176M
Second-round tender - $1.759M
First-round tender - $2.521M
First and third-round tender - $3.168M
Players with five years of experience
The Bills have no players that have been here five seasons without a new contract but I will give you the numbers in case they sign a RFA with that level.
Tenders for RFAs with five years experience
Original draft pick tender - $1.226M
Second-round tender - $1.849M
First-round tender - $2.621M
First and third-round tender - $3.268M
With all that being said the Bills could choose to sign one of these players to a longer and more lucrative contract. It has been rumored at Buffalo Sports Daily that George Wilson falls into this category. Teams can also take their chances, not tender a player, and hope nobody else tries to sign him. With the amounts were talking about that generally doesn't happen, though. As always, we'll keep you informed if/when the tenders are made.