Free agents in the NFL want to move to another team in hopes of getting more money and/or a playing environment that better suits them. Players can become free agents for a lot of reasons; usually, they want more pay, want to be in a different location, don't think their current team is a match, or are not having their contract renewed by their current team. Sometimes an opposing team may initiate the process, make an offer, and ask the player to consider it. The pay for the new contract can be affected by a number of things.
The pay a player has to receive at a minimum is based on the number of credited seasons that player has. A new player gets at least a certain amount; there can be additional amounts like signing bonuses on top of that. Eventually the minimum pay locks in at a certain number after a few credited seasons. However, given the bonuses, endorsements, and other ways to earn money, long-time players can certainly earn a lot more than the minimum salary.
The Player's Prior Year Base Salary
Salary for a new free agent contract can be (but does not have to be) based on the player's prior year's base salary. The base salary is what it sounds like: the base pay that the player will get regardless of whatever bonuses the player has been promised or has received. You'll often see contract offers that use a percentage of the base salary to form the salary offer in the new contract.
RFA Tender Options
Tenders are contract offers to restricted free agents (RFAs), and they offer salaries in two different ways. One is a straight amount (e.g., $6 million dollars), and the other is a percentage (e.g., 110 percent of the player's previous base salary). These amounts vary between rounds, so a first-round tender will offer more than a second-round tender. The right-of-first-refusal tender, however, offers a set amount of money only and does not offer an option to have pay based on the prior year's base salary.
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