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Free Agency Explained

POSTED: Mar 29, 2016 9:50 AM ET


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Free Agent Tracker Key:

Free agency for the 2016-17 season begins at 12:01 a.m. ET on July 1, 2016.

UFA Unrestricted free agent

RFA Restricted free agent

* Player option

** Team option

*** Early termination option

Free Agency Terminology

Unrestricted free agent
An unrestricted free agent (UFA) is free to sign with any team, though some unrestricted free agents have options on their existing contracts that, if exercised, may impact their choices.

Team Option
A team option grants the original team the right to keep a player for another year.

Player Option
A player option grants the player the power to decide whether to stay for another year or become a completely unrestricted free agent.

(In either case, if the option is refused, the player is completely unrestricted, free to sign with any team.)

Early Termination Option
An early termination option gives the player the right to end a signed contract. The option cannot be exercised before the end of the fourth year of an existing contract. If the player declines to exercise the option, he remains with the original team. If the option is exercised, he is free to sign with any team.

Restricted free agent
A restricted free agent can sign an offer sheet with any team, but the player's original team can retain him by matching the terms of that offer. The original team is said to have the "right of first refusal."

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