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Chargers Free Agency 101


The 2024 edition of the NFL's free agency period is quickly approaching.

Here's what you need to know about it:

Question: When does the 2024 free agency signing period begin?

Answer: At 1 p.m. (PT) on Wednesday, March 13.

Q: What is the salary cap for 2024?

A: The salary cap is $255,400,000 per club.

Q: When must teams be in compliance with the salary cap?

A: At the start of the 2024 league year, which begins at 1 p.m. (PT) on Wednesday, March 13.

Q: If a team is under the salary cap at the end of a given season, can the team "carry over" room to the next season?

A: Yes. A team may carry over room from one league year to the following league year by submitting notice to the NFL prior to 1 p.m. (PT) on the day following the team's final regular-season game, indicating the amount of room that the club wishes to carry over.

Q: What is the maximum amount of room that a club can carry over?

A: A club can carry over 100 percent of its remaining 2023 room to its adjusted salary cap for 2024.

Q: What is the legal tampering period?

A: During the period beginning at 9 a.m. (PT) on March 11 and ending at 12:59:59 p.m. (PT) on March 13, 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 2023 player contracts at 1 p.m. (PT) on March 13.

Q: Which Chargers players are free agents?

A: The Bolts are slated to have 27 total players become free agents on March 13. The full list can be found here.

Q: What are the categories of free agency?

A: Players fall into three categories: unrestricted free agents, restricted free agents and exclusive rights free agents. Restricted free agents can be assigned qualifying offers.

Q: What is the difference between a restricted free agent and an unrestricted free agent?

A: In the 2024 league year, players with three accrued seasons who have received a qualifying offer become restricted free agents when their contracts expire at the conclusion of the 2023 league year on March 13. Unrestricted free agents have completed four or more accrued seasons. Upon expiration of his 2023 contract, an unrestricted free agent is free to sign with any club with no draft-choice compensation owed to his old club.

Q: What determines an unrestricted free agent?

A: 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 24 (or the first scheduled day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is later). At that point, his negotiating rights revert exclusively to his old club if by May 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 Week 10 of the regular season (November 14) to sign him. If he does not sign by that date, he must sit out the season. If no tender is offered by May 1, the player can be signed by any club at any time throughout the season.

Q: What constitutes an "accrued season?"

A: Six or more regular season games on a club's active/inactive, reserve/injured, or reserve/physically unable to perform lists.

Q: How do the free agency rules apply to restricted free agents?

A: If a player with three accrued seasons has received a "qualifying offer" (a salary tender predetermined by the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and its players) from his old club, he can negotiate with any club. If the restricted free agent signs an offer sheet with a new club, his old club can match the offer and retain him because the qualifying offer entitles it to a "right of first refusal" on any offer sheet the player signs. If the old club does not match the offer, it may receive draft-choice compensation depending on the amount of its qualifying offer. If an offer sheet is not executed on or before April 19, the player's negotiating rights revert exclusively to his old club. In addition, prior to the start of free agency a player who would otherwise be a restricted free agent may be designated by his old club as its franchise player or transition player.

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