Despite the possible NFL lockout by the owners, which I still feel could very well happen; all NFL Pro Scouting departments are moving forward with business as usual. While each organization takes different paths to get to the same road, the procedures are in place for evaluating free agents.

Meetings have been under way for several weeks. These meetings include Pro Personnel (Directors and scouts), Cap Management (Chief Financial Officer), General Manager, Head Coach and staff. The Pro Personnel introduces their Free Agent on board.

The Head Coach and G.M. set the tone for the meeting along with direction based on team needs. The Pro evaluators then give their reports on the top five players by position. Generally the offensive players are reviewed first, then defensive players along with specialists. Coaches then give their evaluations and grades.

The board is stacked after a lot of major discussions. Keep in mind the NFL Draft is the bloodline of every organization, while Free Agency is used to fill hot spots. When you look at the most successful teams in the NFL, they are the ones that truly stick to the formula of building through the draft and developing those players. These same teams are in the mix for the Lombardi trophy every year.

As defined by the CBA (collective bargaining agreement), Free Agents are broken into to classifications; Restricted and Unrestricted.

An Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA) is a player not under contract to any team and has free rights to shop his skills and negotiate with any of the thirty-two teams for a new contract.

A Restricted Free Agent (RFA) is a player with more than three but less than five years of accrued seasons in the league. The player’s current team has the chance to retain the rights of their player by matching the highest offer from another team. The club can either block a signing or force a trade by offering a salary over a certain threshold. In 2006 these thresholds were:

If a club tenders an offer of $685, 000 per year on a three-year veteran, and $725,000 for a four-year veteran, the player’s current team has the “right of first refusal” over the contract at those terms, and may sign the player at those terms.

If a club tenders an offer of $712,000 or 110% (whichever is higher) of the previous year’s salary, then the current club has both “right of first refusal” and rights to a draft pick from the same round (or higher) from the signing club. The new club must give the draft pick to the club if they wish to sign the player under these terms.

If the club tenders an offer of $1.552 million or 110% (whichever is greater) of the previous year’s salary then the current club has both “right of first refusal,” and right of first round draft pick from signing club.

The following players listed below are on my “Pro Board”

Quarterbacks:

Peyton Manning (IND), Mike Vick (PHI), Alex Smith (SF), Marc Bugler (BAL), Caleb Hanie (CHI)

Running Backs:

DeAngelo Williams (CAR), Arian Foster (HOU), Ahmad Bradshaw (NYG), Cedric Benson (CIN), Mike Tolbert (SD), Darren Sproles (SD), Ben Jarvus Green Ellis (NE), Michael Bush (OAK), Pierre Thomas (NO), Leon Washington (SEA), Tim Hightower (ARZ)

Wide Receivers:

Vincent Jackson (SD), Sidney Rice (MIN), Santonio Holmes (NYJ), Braylon Edwards (NYJ), Malcom Floyd (SD), Steve Smith (NYG), Early Doucet (ARZ), Mike Sims-Walker (JAC), Kevin Curtis (MIA), Lance Moore (NO), Brad Smith (NYJ), Danny Amendola (STL), Mark Clayton (STL)

Tight Ends:

Zach Miller (OAK), Owen Daniels (HOU), Kevin Boss (NYG)

Offensive Linemen:

TACKLES: Tyson Clabo (ATL), Jared Gaither (BAL), Jermon Bushrod (NO), Trai Essex (PIT), Jeromey Clary (SD), Stephon Heyer (WAS)

INTERIOR: Carl Nicks (NO), Logan Mankins (NE), Davin Joseph (TB), Harvey Dahl (ATL), Ryan Kalil (CAR), Daryn Colledge (GB), Deuce Lutui, Justin Blalock (ATL), Marshall Yanda (BAL)

Corners:

Champ Bailey (DEN), Nnamdi Asomugha (OAK), Brent Grimes (ATL), Carlos Rogers (WAS), Johnathan Joseph (CIN), Antonio Cromartie (NYJ), Ike Taylor (PIT), Eric Wright (CLE), Lito Sheppard (MIN), Stanford Routt (OAK)

Safeties:

Roman Harper (NO), Quintin Mikell (PHI), Eric Weddle (SD), Bernard Pollard (HOU), Sabby Piscitelli (CLE), Charlie Peprah (GB)

Linebackers:

Chad Greenway (MIN), LaMarr Woodley (PIT), Tamba Hali (KC), David Harris (NYJ), Stephen Tulloch (TEN), James Anderson (CAR), Thomas Davis (CAR), Tavares Gooden (BAL)

Defensive Ends:

Cullen Jenkins (GB), Mathias Kiwanuka (NYG), Charles Johnson (CAR), Ray Edwards (MIN), Jason Babin (TEN), Shaun Ellis (NYJ), Bryan Robinson (ARZ), Cliff Avril (DET), Turk McBride (DET), Wallace Gilberry (KC)

Defensive Tackles:

Haloti Ngata (BAL), Richard Seymour (OAK), Brandon Mebane (SEA), Aubrayo Franklin (SF), John McCargo (BUF),

Free Agency in the NFL began with a limited free agency system known as “Plan B Free Agency” and put into effect between 1989 and 1992. The 1993 season brought the development of “Plan A Free Agency” which is the system used today.

Player Name Bold = (Received 2011 Franchise Tag)