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2021 Free Agency

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2021 NFL Free Agency Guide: Pending Giants free agents, top 101 available, key dates

FREE-AGENCY-PREVIEW

The first game of the 2021 season won't kick off until September, but the new league year is days away.

Starting Monday, clubs are permitted to contact -- and enter into contract negotiations with -- the certified agents of players who will become Unrestricted Free Agents upon the expiration of their 2020 player contracts. They cannot sign until the start of the new league year, which begins at 4 p.m. ET on March 17.

Below is a look at which Giants are set to become free agents:

Unrestricted Free Agents:

Restricted Free Agents:

  • WR C.J. Board
  • LB Devante Downs
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DATES TO KNOW

March 15-17: Clubs are permitted to contact, and enter into contract negotiations with, the certified agents of players who will become Unrestricted Free Agents upon the expiration of their 2020 player contracts. They cannot sign until the start of the new league year.

March 17: The 2021 league year and free agency period begin at 4:00 p.m. ET.

April 23: Deadline for Restricted Free Agents to sign offer sheets.

April 29-May 1: 2021 NFL Draft, Cleveland, Ohio.

View NFL.com's updated rankings of the top 101 free agents of 2021 ahead of the new league year, which begins March 17.

NFL SETS SALARY CAP

After months of speculation, the 2021 NFL salary cap has been set at $182.5 million.

The new number is down from $198.2 million in 2020 as the league deals with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The NFL had previously set the salary cap floor at $180 million.

Starting Monday, March 15, clubs are permitted to contact, and enter into contract negotiations with, the certified agents of players who will become unrestricted free agents upon the expiration of their 2020 player contracts. They cannot sign until the start of the new league year at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 17.

On Tuesday, nine players were designated as non-exclusive franchise players around the league, including Giants defensive tackle Leonard Williams for the second consecutive year. One player – Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott – was designated as an exclusive franchise player. The signing period for franchise players begins at 4 p.m. on March 17 and ends on the Tuesday following the 10th week of the season.

2021 Franchise Players:

  • DT Leonard Williams (Giants)
  • OL Taylor Moton (Panthers)
  • WR Allen Robinson (Bears)
  • QB Dak Prescott* (Cowboys)
  • S Justin Simmons (Broncos)
  • OL Cam Robinson (Jaguars)
  • S Marcus Williams (Saints)
  • S Marcus Maye (Jets)
  • WR Chris Godwin (Buccaneers)

*Denotes "Exclusive" Franchise Player

NFL FREE AGENCY DESIGNATIONS

Unrestricted free agent (UFA): Any player with four or more accrued seasons and an expired contract; free to negotiate and sign with any team.

Restricted free agent (RFA): A player with three accrued seasons and an expired contract. RFAs are free to negotiate and sign with any team, but their original team can offer them one of various qualifying offers ("tenders") that come with the right of first refusal and/or draft-pick compensation. If the tender is withdrawn by a team, the RFA becomes an unrestricted free agent. These amounts change annually.

Exclusive rights free agent (ERFA): Any player with fewer than three accrued seasons and an expired contract. If his original team offers him a one-year contract at the league minimum (based on his credited seasons), the player cannot negotiate with other teams.

Accrued seasons: Used to determine a player's free agency status (unrestricted, restricted, exclusive rights). In order to accrue a season, a player must spend six or more regular-season games on a club's active/inactive, reserve/injured or reserve/physically unable to perform lists.

Non-exclusive franchise tag: A player who receives the non-exclusive franchise tag is free to negotiate with other teams. The player receives a one-year deal with a salary set at the greater of (a) the cap percentage average for his position (an amount equal to the sum of the franchise tag figures at a player's position over the previous five seasons divided by the sum of the salary caps over the previous five seasons multiplied by the current year's salary cap) OR (b) 120 percent of his PYS (the player's cap number from the previous season, minus any performance incentives).

Teams that use the non-exclusive franchise tag hold the right of first refusal. If a designated player signs an offer sheet with another team, the player's previous team has five days to match the offer sheet. Should it decide not to, the player's original team shall be entitled to draft-choice compensation equivalent to two first-round picks.

Exclusive franchise tag: A player who receives the exclusive franchise tag cannot negotiate with other teams. The player receives a one-year deal for the greater of (a) the average of the five-largest PYS at his position at the conclusion of the restricted free agent signing period of the current league year or (b) the amount of the non-exclusive franchise tag. Last player to receive an exclusive franchise tag: Dak Prescott (with the Cowboys in 2020).

Transition tag: A player who receives the transition tag is free to negotiate with other teams. The player receives a one-year deal for the greater of (a) the cap percentage average (calculation as shown above) of the top 10 greatest PYS at the player's position or (b) 120 percent of his own PYS. Should such a player sign an offer sheet with a new team, his former team has five days to match the offer sheet. However, should his former team decide not to match, there is no draft-pick compensation tied to the transition tag. If a transition player has not signed an offer sheet with a new team by July 22, he can only negotiate and sign with his prior team that season. Last player to receive transition tag: Kenyan Drake (with the Cardinals in 2020).

View the players set to become free agents when the new league year begins March 17.

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