Free agency began last night and today is the first full day teams can negotiate new contracts with players. But before things really get going and and the jargon starts to get in the way of what really is a simple process, let’s take a moment now to note the difference between restricted free agents and unrestricted free agents.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENT
Let’s say I have just completed my rookie contract, spending four seasons with the team that drafted me in the first round. My contract expired last night and now I’m a free agent. Other teams can make me an offer and I can agree to sign an offer sheet. My former team can then do one of two things: it can match the offer because that is its right and retain my services or it can say goodbye and good luck with my new team.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENT
Let’s say I have just completed my second contract with the team that drafted me (or another one, it really doesn’t matter in this scenario). My contract expired last night and I’m a free agent for the second time in my career (or third or whatever). Other teams can now make me an offer and I can agree to it and sign it. My former team does not have the right to match it and cannot retain my services. I am now a member of a new team.
That’s about as simplistic as I can make it. But you get the idea.