Ten Panthers became free agents when the NFL's veteran free agency signing and trading period began on Friday. Of those 10 players, seven are unrestricted free agents and three are restricted free agents.
Unrestricted free agents have completed four or more accrued seasons with an expired contract. Players become restricted free agents when they complete three accrued seasons and their contract expires.
|**Unrestricted Free Agents**
|**Restricted Free Agents****
DEFINITIONSUnrestricted free agent: A player with four or more accrued seasons whose contract has expired. He is free to sign with any club, with no compensation owed to his old club, through July 22 (or the first scheduled day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is later). On July 23, his rights revert to his old club if it made a "tender" offer (110 percent of last year's salary) to him by June 1. His old club then has until the Tuesday after the 10th week of the season (November 17) to sign him. If he does not sign by November 17, he must sit out the season. If no tender is offered by June 1, the player can be signed by any club at any time throughout the season.
Restricted free agent: A restricted free agent has completed three accrued seasons and has an expired contract. He has received a "qualifying" offer (a salary level predetermined by the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and its players) from his old club. He can negotiate with any club through April 17. If the restricted free agent accepts an offer sheet from a new club, his old club can match the offer and retain him because it has the "right of first refusal." If the old club does not match the offer, it can possibly receive draft-choice compensation depending on the amount of its qualifying offer. If an offer sheet is not executed, the player's rights revert to his old club after April 17.