And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: the start of the 2012 NFL League Year.
Farewell 2011, and all of your troubles–we never liked you that much anyway. Sure, some good things happened in 2011, especially the infusion of youth and fresh faces on a roster that badly needed new blood.
The results weren’t what the team was looking for, but the process was well underway towards a brighter future.
And when the clock strikes 4 p.m., that future will be ushered in. In no particular order, here is your guide to bright and shiny things that will magically appear:
1. Any trades executed in recent weeks can be made official. This applies to any and all trades that you may have heard rumored in recent weeks. Also remember that this means that teams have until 4 p.m. to back out of said arrangements. But if the agreements go off without a hitch, and get all appropriate John Hancocks, then these trades will be made official by the league.
2. The free agency free-for-all begins. Regardless of whether you were cut, restricted or unrestricted, you hit the market at 4 p.m.
For restricted free agents, this means that other teams may make you an offer, which the original team can match or accept. If they match, you stay, and if they don’t, they receive compensation in the form of whatever pick you were tagged with. Under the new CBA, the highest tender available is a first-round pick (down from the previous first and third-round picks).
What is a restricted free agent? In the 2012 League Year, players with three accrued seasons become restricted free agents when their contracts expire. Unrestricted free agents have completed four or more accrued seasons. An unrestricted free agent is free to sign with any club with no draft choice compensation owed to his old club.
An accrued season is defined as, “Six or more regular-season games on a club’s active/inactive, reserved/injured or reserve/physically unable to perform lists.”
For unrestricted free agents, you may go where you please. Remember to say all the right things about how you loved your old city, but felt like this was the best opportunity for you and your family at this time.
For players that have been cut in recent days, you’re already a free agent. Whenever the ink dried on your pink slip, you were a free agents, so get on the horn and find your next team.
For franchised players, just sit tight. If things get tense before you sign the one-year contract, your team might trade you, or you could sit out the season in protest. But just remember that old accrued season rule: if a franchise player does not sign by November 13, he must sit out the season.
3. The salary cap is set for teams for 2012. For now, the number has been officially set at $120,600,000, and all teams must be in compliance with the cap as of 4 p.m. This explains the cuts in recent days and hours. This cap is a slight increase from last season.
Any more questions about terms or definitions? Fire away, and I’ll answer as best as I can. Anything I don’t know, I’ll make up (or ask someone in the building who knows).
We’re down inside of 30 minutes left in the 2011 season, so get your streamers and party hats ready. This looks to be an exciting new year for football in the Nation’s Capital.