The witching hour is almost upon the NFL, that moment when the clock strikes 4 p.m. and free agency kicks into high gear today.
The Steelers have been busy the last few days, agreeing to terms with linebacker Arthur Moats on a three-year deal and tight end Matt Spaeth on a two-year deal before they became unrestricted free agents. The team also re-signed long snapper Greg Warren this offseason, keeping him from reaching free agency as well.
But there are still players with their futures in question.
The following are slated to become unrestricted free agents today: linebackers James Harrison and Jason Worilds; cornerbacks Brice McCain and Ike Taylor; safety Will Allen; wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey; tight end Michael Palmer; running back Ben Tate; and defensive end Clifton Geathers.
All unrestricted free agents are free to negotiate and sign with any other team, without giving the Steelers the opportunity to re-sign them.
The Steelers restricted free agents are cornerback Antwon Blake, safety Robert Golden and fullback Will Johnson. The Steelers have made tender offers to the players and by doing so reserve the right to retain the players by matching any offer sheets they would sign with another team. All three players could also remain with the Steelers by signing their tender offer for the 2015 season or by signing a long-term contract with the team.
Free agency is one of the most exciting times in the NFL, but can also be one of the most confusing. Here are a few facts to help you sort through it all, and you can also read the full Free Agency Q & A.
What determines an Unrestricted Free Agent?**
A player with four or more accrued seasons whose contract has expired. He is free to sign with any club, with no draft choice compensation owed to his old club, through July 22. At that point, his negotiating rights revert exclusively to his old club if by June 1 the old club tendered the player a one-year contract for 110 percent of his prior year's salary. His old club then has until the Tuesday following the 10th week of the regular season to sign him. If he does not sign by that date, he must sit out the season. If no tender is offered by June 1, the player can be signed by any club at any time throughout the season.
What is the difference between a Restricted Free Agent and an Unrestricted Free Agent?
Players with three Accrued Seasons become Restricted Free Agents when their contracts expire at the conclusion of the League Year. Unrestricted Free Agents have completed four or more Accrued Seasons. An Unrestricted Free Agent is free to sign with any club with no draft choice compensation owed to his old club.
What constitutes an Accrued Season?
Six or more regular-season games on a club's active/inactive, reserved/injured or reserve/physically unable to perform lists.