NFL free agency Q & A

Q. When does the 2014 free agency signing period begin?

A. At 3 p.m. CDT on Tuesday, March 11.

Q. What is the salary cap for 2014?

A. $133 million per club.

Q. When must teams be in compliance with the cap?

A. At the start of the 2014 league year at 3 p.m. CDT on March 11.

Q. What is permitted during the three-day negotiating period prior to the start of free agency?

A. Beginning at 11 a.m. CDT on Saturday, March 8 and ending at 2:59:59 p.m. on Tuesday, March 11, clubs are permitted to contact, and enter into negotiations with, the certified agents of players who will become unrestricted free agents (UFA) upon the expiration of their 2013 player contracts at 3 p.m. CDT on March 11. A contract cannot be executed with a new club until 3 p.m. CDT on March 11.

During this negotiation period, a prospective UFA cannot visit a club (other than the player’s current club) at its permanent facility or at any other location, and no direct contact is permitted between the player and any employee or representative of a club (other than the player’s current club).

Q. What are the categories of free agency?

A. Players are either restricted free agents (RFA) or unrestricted free agents (UFA). An RFA may be subject to a qualifying offer from his team while a UFA is free to negotiate with any club — including his own.

Q. What is the difference between an RFA and a UFA?

A. Restricted free agents have three accrued seasons in the league when their contracts expire on March 11 at 2:59 p.m. CDT, while unrestricted free agents have four or more accrued seasons.

Q. What is an accrued season?

A. Six or more regular-season games on a club’s active/inactive, reserved/injured or reserve/physically unable to perform lists.

Q. What is the time period for free agency signings this year?

A. RFAs can receive an offer from any team from March 11 to May 2.

For UFAs who have received the June 1 tender from their prior club, it’s from March 11 to July 22 (or the first scheduled day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is later).

Players who have received the franchise designation have from March 11 to the Tuesday following the 10th week of the regular season, November 11, to sign.

If the player does not sign by Nov. 11, they must sit out the season.

Sheldon Mickles