2012 Dallas Cowboys Off-season: Free Agency Classes, Salary Cap Notes, and Contract Restructuring

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With the high fluidity of NFL rosters, an overwhelming number of question marks abound, and endless predictions running rampant on the web these days, we’re undoubtedly stuck in the middle of another lengthy, anxious, football-starved off-season.  Millions of armchair general managers now get a chance to do what we do best…plot the certain best course for our respective team we pledge our allegiance to.  After all, we know best, well in our own minds at least.  Countless variables litter the NFL landscape, so let’s shed a little light on free agency, the salary cap, and the effects they have on the 2012 Dallas Cowboys.  Starting with basics of free agency to get the ball rolling, this introductory part may be repetitive to diehard NFL fans, yet it’s necessary to discuss as a precursor to filling a roster.  Below are the three classes of NFL Free Agents.


A basic overview discussing the three types of free agents, general details of each, and the Dallas Cowboys players (2011 starters / contributors) that fall under these categories.  Naturally NFL Free Agency is a very complex system, so this is a general look at some of the guidelines and rules.

1)  Exclusive Rights Free Agents (ERFA)

These players have accrued less than three seasons in the NFL.  For 2012, their current team has the choice to retain their services at the 3rd year veteran minimum of $540,000.  If extended this offer, the player must accept and play the season for this amount or is unable to play in the NFL in 2012.

Dallas Cowboys 2012 ERFAs:

Starters (0):  None

Contributors (2):  Jesse Holley (WR), Jermey Parnell (T)

2)  Restricted Free Agents (RFA)

This classification is far more complicated than the other two.  RFA’s can be offered by the current team at three different salary levels.  They are then able to seek better offers from other teams.  Once another offer is settled upon, the current team has a ‘Right of refusal’.  This means the current team can match the competing team’s offer, and if so the RFA must play for his current team for that exact amount.  If a higher offer is agreed upon, and the current team refuses to match, the new team must then compensate the original team in the form of a draft pick.  Each tender level requires a different form of compensation.  The three levels and their applicable compensation are as follows:

  • Original Pick Tender (lowest level) – $1.26 million – if a higher offer is agreed upon and goes unmatched, compensation results in the new team surrendering a draft pick in the following draft that is equal to where the player was originally selected in his draft year.  A player selected in the 6th round requires the new team to compensate the former team with a 6th round draft pick.  Undrafted players require no compensation from the new team.
  • Second Round Tender – $1.927 million – if a higher offer is agreed upon and the original team refuses to match, the new team must compensate with a second round draft pick.
  • First Round Tender – $2.742 million – if a higher offer is agreed upon and goes unmatched, the original team surrenders a first round draft pick as compensation

Dallas Cowboys 2012 RFAs:

Starters (1):  Tony Fiammetta (FB)

Contributors (1):  Kevin Ogletree (WR)

3)  Unrestricted Free Agents (UFA)

This classification is exactly what it sounds like, no restrictions.  For all intense purposes, these players currently belong to no team.  Dallas Cowboys UFA’s are simply no longer Dallas Cowboys.  They are free to negotiate and sign with any team of their choosing.

Dallas Cowboys 2012 UFAs:

Starters (5):  Abram Elam (S), Bradie James (ILB), Matt McBriar (P), Laurent Robinson (WR), Anthony Spencer (OLB)

Contributors (7):  Alan Ball (CB), Martellus Bennett (TE), Keith Brooking (ILB), Derrick Dockery (G/T), Montrae Holland (G), Sammy Morris (RB), Frank Walker (CB)

*Retired (1):       Thank you for your unwavering service, dedication, and leadership, Jon Kitna

JON K. KITNA:   14 NFL Seasons, 141 games, 2,677 pass completions, 60.3% completion %,

29,745 passing yards, 169 passing TD’s, 956 rushing yards, 11 rushing TD’s, Dallas Cowboy