Keep in mind that this article is assuming a new CBA is worked out and that the old free agency levels will be in place. As things were in 2010 due to the lack of a CBA, players had to wait six years before they hit unrestricted free agency. Under the pre-2010 system (and potentially this offseason) it broke down like this:
- Exclusive-Rights Free Agent — Zero to two years of NFL service. If tendered a contract offer by their old club, ERFAs have no choice but to re-sign and play for that team, or not play football at all.
- Restricted Free Agent — Three years of NFL service. RFAs are tendered contract offers at one of four different salary levels. Each level corresponds to a draft pick compensation amount for the old club if the player signs with a new team. Players can either re-sign with their old club or sign an offer sheet with a new team. The old club has seven days to match the offer from the new club and retain the player.
- Unrestricted Free Agent — Four or more years of NFL service. Players are free to sign with another club once the free agent signing period begins. Old clubs receive no compensation if a player signs elsewhere. Old clubs do have the option to place the franchise tag or transition tag on a player before their contract expires in the offseason.
Now that all the technical stuff is out of the way, here are the Miami Dolphins' free agents for the 2011 offseason...
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