With unrestricted free agency starting Tuesday, let's take a look at some of the important parts of free agency and some key dates.
Reserve/Future: After a team completes its season, that club may sign a free agent player for the subsequent season (2014) until the Super Bowl. These players are placed on the team's Reserve/Future list. A free agent signed to a club's Reserve/Future list is not eligible to be signed by any club for the current season (2013).
February 3: Waiver system begins for 2014. Players with less than four years of credited service are subject to waivers. Teams have 24 hours to make a claim after waivers are requested for that player. Players with four years or more of credited service are released and become unrestricted free agents able to sign with any team.
February 17: First day for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players.
March 3: Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, deadline for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players.
March 8: 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 2013 Player Contracts at 4:00 p.m., New York time, on March 11. However, a contract cannot be executed with a new club until 4:00 p.m., New York time, on March 11.
March 11: All 2013 player contracts will expire at 4:00 p.m., New York time. The 2014 League Year and Free Agency period begin at 4:00 p.m., New York time. Trading period for 2014 begins at 4:00 p.m., New York time, after expiration of all 2013 contracts. Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, clubs must submit Qualifying Offers to their Restricted Free Agents with expiring contracts and to whom they desire to retain a Right of First Refusal/Compensation.
May 2: Deadline for Restricted Free Agents to sign Offer Sheets.
May 7: Deadline for Prior Club to exercise Right of First Refusal to Restricted Free Agents.
July 15: At 4:00 p.m., New York time, deadline for any Club that designated a Franchise Player to sign such player to a multi-year contract or extension. After this date, the player may sign only a one-year contract with his Prior Club for the 2014 season, and such contract cannot be extended until after the Club's last regular season game.