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2017 NFL free agency: rules, dates, and the Buffalo Bills

The Tyrod Taylor decision isn’t the only thing that will happen this week.

Welcome to the 2017 NFL Free Agency period. This week, NFL teams will add big-name free agents and make decisions on several others as the salary cap, roster options, and much more will need to be decided. The Buffalo Bills, in particular, hold one of the biggest dominoes in Tyrod Taylor, whose future is up in the air. Here’s a primer.

Tuesday, March 7th - Legal Tampering Period

Beginning on March 7th, other NFL teams may begin speaking to soon-to-be free agents to put together parameters for a contract. This could include players flying to team facilities, going out to fancy dinners, meeting with coaches, and anything else in the courting process except signing an actual contract.

Thursday, March 9th

This is the biggest of all the days. With the start of the new league year at 4:00 p.m., multiple moving parts need to be in sync:

Teams must be under the salary cap

A team’s combined top 51 salary cap hits must be below the NFL’s salary cap by this time or the team will be penalized and any contract newly agreed to will be void. That number was set at $167 million for 2017.

Teams may begin signing free agents

You can start inking those contracts that you began working out during the tampering period. Lots of deals will become official at 4:00 p.m. that were signed days before.

Teams must submit qualifying offers

If you’re a restricted free agent or an exclusive rights free agent, you’ll know by 4:00 if the team has sent you a qualifying offer. For restricted free agents, teams can either do original round tenders or a first- or second-round tenders in order to gain compensation from the team that signs away a player.

Trades can be executed

All those fancy trades involving players can happen now.

Saturday, March 11

The Bills must exercise their option to release Tyrod Taylor by 4pm EST on Saturday or else they will guarantee a large portion of his contract. Here is our roundup of the Taylor speculation.