Once the new league year begins at 4pm ET next Tuesday, teams will be able to execute free agent contracts and consummate trades (like the LeSean McCoy-Kiko Alonso deal announced yesterday).
It's also the deadline for teams to tender their restricted and exclusive rights free agents. According to OTC, Denver has three free agents of the restricted kind (Aaron Brewer, Tony Carter, Steven Johnson), and four of the exclusive rights variety (Brandon Marshall, Paul Cornick, Ben Garland, John Youboty).
Let's get refreshed on how restricted free agency works:
Restricted Free Agents
Per OTC, the restricted tenders should carry the following values:
- First round: $3.352M
- Second round: $2.356M
- Original round: $1.542M
Denver has the option of tendering any of Brewer, Carter, and/or Johnson a one-year contract. How and whether they do so basically indicates the team's interest in retaining the player, and how likely another team is to be interested in signing them. A restricted tender is non-guaranteed, so any these players can sign his tender, show up for camp, get cut, and the Broncos will neither owe the player any money nor suffer any cap consequence whatsoever. [I may have written in the past that RFA tenders become guaranteed for injury at signing, but after checking with a reliable caponomics expert, this is not the case.]
Once tendered, all restricted free agents have the ability to shop around for an offer sheet, and if they sign one - and once the Broncos are notified - Denver has five days to match the offer or let the player walk. If a player is tendered at the first- or second-round level, then the new team has to compensate Denver with the corresponding draft choice, should the Broncos opt not to match. With an original round tender, Denver retains a right of first refusal, or opportunity to match, but with no draft choice compensation available.
It would seem pretty obvious that neither of Brewer, Carter, nor Johnson is deserving of a first- or second-round tender. According to Mike Klis, there's no chance that Carter gets tendered. We'd assume the Broncos want Brewer and Johnson back, but $1.542M for either player on a one-year deal with no further team control may be a bit steep.
Exclusive Rights Free Agents
ERFA players have no leverage whatsoever. They're guys who have fewer than three accrued seasons under their belts, and the Broncos can tender them non-guaranteed, minimum salary, one-year contracts. In Marshall's case, this means a $585K salary for 2015, while Cornick, Garland, and Youboty would be tendered at $510K.
The only reason for Denver not to tender any of these players is if they think there's no chance they'll make the 53-man roster.
Looking back at last offseason, the Broncos non-tendered Trindon Holliday, making him an unrestricted free agent. Everyone else was tendered, with Chris Harris and Mitch Unrein playing out their RFA tenders. Harris, of course, signed a long-term extension midseason, while Unrein is now set to become an unrestricted free agent.