With the NFL's free agency signing period set to begin on Friday, the Panthers have tendered contracts to eight restricted free agents – including linebacker Thomas Davis and quarterback Matt Moore, who both received tenders at first and third-round compensation. Carolina has also tendered contracts to four exclusive rights free agents, who in effect remain tied to the team.
In the final league year (2010) of the Collective Bargaining Agreement when there is no salary cap, a player whose contract expires becomes a restricted free agent if he has three, four or five accrued seasons. The first refusal/compensation rights of restricted free agents remain unchanged in the final league year. This is unlike previous capped seasons, where a player whose contract expired became an unrestricted free agent if he had four or more accrued seasons.
|POS||PLAYER||ROUND (YEAR) DRAFTED||TENDER RECEIVED|
|LB||James Anderson||Third (2006)||Original|
|LB||Thomas Davis||First (2005)||First and Third|
|TE||Jeff King||Fifth (2006)||Second|
|DT||Louis Leonard||Undrafted (2007)||Second|
|CB||Richard Marshall||Second (2006)||Second|
|QB||Matt Moore||Undrafted (2007)||First and Third|
|DT||Tank Tyler||Third (2007)||Original|
|CB||C.J. Wilson||Seventh (2007)||Original|
The Panthers did not make qualifying offers to three potential restricted free agents: kicker Rhys Lloyd, tackle Rob Petitti and safety Quinton Teal. As a result, these players will become free agents and will be free to sign with any team when the NFL's free agency signing period begins on Friday.
Any player with an expiring contract but with less than three accrued seasons in the League is an exclusive rights free agent. Carolina can retain the rights to these players by making a qualifying contract offer.
The Collective Bargaining Agreement between the League and its players predetermines the salary level for the tendered qualifying offers. With Carolina's restricted free agents, the Panthers' tender offer ensures a right-of-first-refusal for these players, plus the potential for draft-choice compensation in some cases should the players sign elsewhere.
A restricted free agent can negotiate with any club through April 15. If the player has not received an offer from another club by April 15, the restricted player's negotiating rights revert exclusively back to the Panthers. Prior to April 15, if the restricted free agent accepts an offer sheet from a new team, Carolina can match the offer and retain him. If the Panthers do not match the offer, they can possibly receive draft-choice compensation.
In most cases, a restricted free agent is tendered what is called an original tender. This ensures the right-of-first-refusal plus draft pick compensation, but only if the player was originally drafted when he entered the League. In the event compensation becomes due, the draft choice surrendered by the signing team would be the same as the round in which that player was originally drafted.
There are three higher levels for a restricted free agent, all of which are at successively higher salary amounts. Each of these levels can be made to any player, regardless of the player's original draft round or undafted status coming into the League. The first-round tendered contract retains the rights to the player and would cost another team its first-round pick to sign that player. The second-round tendered contract also retains the rights to the player and would cost another team their second round pick to sign that player. In each case, the team still retains the right to match any offer, or the team may choose to accept the first-round pick or second-round pick from the signing team. The highest of all tender levels is the first-and third-restricted free agent tender. This is the same as the others except that the draft choice compensation that a team would sacrifice to sign one of these players would be both a first- and third-round pick.