With free agency in full swing, it’s worth clearing up a couple of notes with the market for restricted free agents. That’s because the rules are a little more rigid and not always so easy to understand.
After all, I was even confused about the signing period at the start of the whole process. There are some “official” calendars out there that note March 17 as the date when restricted free agents can begin signing, but I received word Wednesday from the NFL that “there is no significance to March 17.” Also, restricted free agents can sign through April 20.
Therefore, restricted free agents like Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace and Patriots quarterback Brian Hoyer are allowed to negotiate just like unrestricted free agents. Then why is it still so quiet on the Wallace front? Well, that’s a better question.
There’s one other note that is more important to the Patriots, who have two draft picks in the first, second and third rounds. If the Patriots sign someone like Wallace, who has a first-round tender, the NFL defines the draft compensation as “its own [draft pick] or better.”
The Patriots’ two first-rounders are Nos. 27 (the Saints’ pick) and 31 (the Patriots’ own pick). So, if they signed someone with a first-round tender, they’d surrender the 27th pick in compensation. The possibility exists that the Patriots could work out a trade with the restricted free agent’s team to lower the compensation, too.
Aside from Wallace and Hoyer (second-round tender), here are some more noteworthy restricted free agents: Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb (first-round tender), Jets linebacker Aaron Maybin (first-round tender), Rams wide receiver Danny Amendola (second-round tender) and Buccaneers defensive end Michael Bennett (first-round tender).