There are two different types of free agents, restricted and unrestricted. An unrestricted free agent is any player with four or more accrued seasons at the expiration of his contract. These players are completely free to negotiate and sign a contract with any organization, and clubs are free to negotiate without penalties or restrictions.

A restricted free agent is any veteran player with three accrued seasons, but less than four accrued seasons. These players come with restrictions, the players shall be completely free to talk with other clubs, but the club losing that player is allowed to counter the offer the player was given. This is called first refusal and or draft compensation. The terms within the CBA get slightly tricky and teams generally don’t lose RFA’s through a bidding war, and rarely do teams mortgage draft picks into the future, while not popular it does happen.

With only 22 days remaining before the NFL free agent period begins teams are negotiating with player representatives to resign their own UFA’s and taking them off the free agent market. Once the calendar hits March 12th and the clock ticks past 4:00 pm est , all hell breaks loose, those players without a contract or left unprotected become open game for all other teams to sign.

When preparing an NFL organization for the future, each team must manage their cap with a keen eye and have a plan. Part of the plan is releasing aging overpaid veterans from the roster. One of the biggest mistakes that is made is the restructuring of contracts into the future and possibly forcing organizations into cap hell and strapping the club’s mobility into the future.

Below are the ranked players by position all are UFA, unless noted;

Quarterbacks

Joe Flacco – Ravens

Matt Moore – Dolphins

Jason Campbell – Bears

Drew Stanton – Colts

Chase Daniel – Saints

Running Backs

Steven Jackson – Rams

Chris Ivory – Saints (RFA)

Reggie Bush – Dolphins

Shonn Greene – Jets

Peyton Hillis – Chiefs

Full Backs

Jerome Felton – Vikings

Tight Ends

Delanie Walker – 49ers

Martellus Bennett – Giants

Jared Cook – Titians

Dennis Pitta – Ravens

Wide Receivers

Mike Wallace – Steelers

Danny Amendola – Rams

Greg Jennings – Green Bay

Wes Welker – Patriots

Emmanuel Sanders – Steelers (RFA)

Dwayne Bowe – Chiefs

Ted Ginn Jr – 49ers (receiver depth and return skills)

Offensive Line

Tackles

Andre Smith – Bengals

Jake Long – Dolphins

Ryan Clady – Broncos

Branden Albert – Chiefs

Sebastian Vollmer – Patriots

Phil Loadholt – Vikings

Guards

Andy Levitre – Bills

Kevin Boothe – Giants

Louis Vasquez – Chargers

Centers

Brian De La Puente – Saints (RFA)

Dan Koppen – Broncos

Phil Costa – Cowboys (RFA)

Corner Backs

Aqib Talib – Patriots

Sam Shields – Packers (RFA)

Cary Williams – Ravens

Chris Houston – Lions

Sean Smith – Dolphins

Leodis Mc Kelvin – Bills (return skills raises value)

Safeties

Jairus Byrd – Bills

Dashon Goldson – 49ers

William Moore – Falcons

LaRon Landry – Jets

Glover Quinn – Texans

Linebackers

Inside

Dannell Ellerbe – Ravens

Brad Jones – Packers

Rey Maualuga – Bengals

Jasper Brinkley – Vikings

Outside

Phillip Wheeler – Raiders

Victor Butler – Cowboys

Defensive Line

Tackles

Henry Melton – Bears

Sammie Hill – Lions

Desmond Bryant – Raiders

Ends

Anthony Spencer – Cowboys

Michael Bennett – Buccaneers

Paul Kruger – Ravens

Michael Johnson – Bengals

Dwight Freeney – Colts (DPR)

William Hayes – Rams (effective as DE/DT)