Basics of the Uncapped Year

Posted Feb 16, 2010

If you’ve been following closely the developments in the NFL recently you’ve surely heard that the NFL will soon be in what’s officially referred to as the Final League Year. More commonly, the Final League Year is known as an Uncapped Year.

The difference between a normal year in the NFL under the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and an uncapped year in the last year of the CBA is actually substantial and significant.

To try and simplify it for you, has defined below some basic terms and principles of the Uncapped Year. On Wednesday, will enlist the help of Vikings VP of Football Operations Rob Brzezinski to define and understand more complexities of the Final League Year.

UFAs vs. RFAs
-- To qualify for unrestricted free agency a player must have 6 accrued seasons, as opposed to 4 accrued seasons under rules governing a capped year (prior to 2010).

Salary Cap/Floor
-- The salary cap disappears in an uncapped year, but so does the salary floor.

Final 8 and Final 4 Plan
-- The 8 clubs that made the Divisional Playoffs have restrictions that limit their ability to sign UFAs from other clubs.

-- In the case of all final 8 teams, the 1st year salary of UFAs they sign to replace those lost cannot exceed the 1st-year salary of the player lost, with limitations on the per-year increases.

-- In general, the 4 clubs participating in the championship games are limited in the number of free agents that they may sign; the limit is determined by the number of their own free agents signing with other clubs. They cannot sign any UFAs unless one of theirs is signed by another club.

-- For the 4 clubs that lost in the Divisional Playoffs, in addition to having the ability to sign free agents based on the number of their own free agents signing with other clubs, they may also sign players based on specific financial parameters. Those 4 only will be permitted to sign 1 UFA for $5.5 million (estimated) or more in Year One of the contract, plus the number of their UFAs who sign with another team. They also can sign any UFAs for less than $3.7 (estimated) million in Year One of the contract with limitations on the per-year increases.

Extra Tags
-- In capped years, a club may designate a franchise player OR a transition player, but in the Final League Year (2010) a club may designate 1 additional transition player.

-- A transition player must be offered a minimum of the average of the top 10 salaries of the prior season at the player’s position or 120% of the player’s prior year’s salary, whichever is greater.

-- A Transition Tag designation gives the club a first-refusal right of 7 days to match an offer sheet given to the player by another club after his contract expires. If the club matches, it retains the player. If it does not match, it receives no draft pick compensation from that club.