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2018 NFL free agency primer: dates, times, information to know

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Everything you need to know about free agency rules.

Monday, March 12th is the first day of note on the league’s 2018 calendar. Starting Monday at noon, NFL teams can begin “legally tampering” with soon-to-be free agents from other NFL teams. Deals can be agreed to but not formalized until the new league years begins on Wednesday, March 14th at 4:00 p.m. Eastern.

Also by Wednesday, teams must submit tender offers to Restricted Free Agents and Exclusive Right Free Agents to keep them from becoming Unrestricted Free Agents. Here is the list of Bills ERFAs and RFAs.

One more thing happens on Wednesday: all those trades we’ve seen recently, including the trade for Tyrod Taylor, will become official. Paperwork can’t be submitted until the new league year begins.

By Wednesday’s deadline, teams must also be under the league’s salary cap. The cap applies to the 51 most expensive players on the roster at this point in time, not all the players on their roster during the offseason. The Bills have a fair amount of space to work with following the trade of Taylor.

Here’s the complete rundown courtesy of NFL Operations:

2018 NFL league year, free agency dates and times

Date Info
Date Info
March 12-14 Clubs are permitted to contact, and enter into contract negotiations with, the certified agents of players who will become Unrestricted Free Agents upon the expiration of their 2017 player contracts at 4:00 p.m., New York time, on March 14. However, a contract cannot be executed with a new club until 4:00 p.m., New York time, on March 14.
March 14 Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, clubs must exercise options for 2018 on all players who have option clauses in their 2017 contracts.
March 14 Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, clubs must submit qualifying offers to their Restricted Free Agents with expiring contracts to retain a Right of First Refusal/Compensation.
March 14 Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, clubs must submit a minimum salary tender to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with expiring 2017 contracts who have fewer than three accrued seasons of free agency credit.
March 14 Top 51 begins. All clubs must be under the 2018 salary cap prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time.
March 14 All 2017 player contracts will expire at 4:00 p.m., New York time.
March 14 The 2018 league year and free agency period begin at 4:00 p.m., New York time. The first day of the 2018 league year will end at 11:59:59 p.m., New York time, on March 14. Clubs will receive a personnel notice that will include all transactions submitted to the league office during the period between 4:00 p.m., New York time, and 11:59:59 p.m., New York time, on March 14.
March 14 The first day of the 2018 league year will end at 11:59:59 p.m., New York time, on March 14. Clubs will receive a personnel notice that will include all transactions submitted to the league office during the period between 4:00 p.m., New York time, and 11:59:59 p.m., New York time, on March 14.
March 14 Trading period for 2018 begins at 4:00 p.m., New York time, after expiration of all 2017 contracts.