Pittsburgh’s are not taking unnecessary risks as they head into free agency, as the Steelers tender unrestricted free agents Will Johnson, Antwon Blake, and Robert Golden ahead of the NFL free agency deadline.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) March 9, 2015
While the 2011 CBA between the NFL Owners and the NFL Players Association requires that all drafted players be offered full four year contracts, undrafted rookie free agents and any other player who has not accumulated 3 years of experience fall into the category of restricted free agents.
- As restricted free agents, Johnson, Blake and Golden can negotiate with other NFL teams, but the Steelers retain the right of first refusal.
There was some question as to whether the Steelers would tender all three men, as together their tenders eat up approximately 4.5 million dollars worth of salary cap space. Jim Wexell of Steel City Insider explained why the Steelers acted this way:
Thought Steelers might not tender an RFA or two, try to get back even cheaper. But made right decision. Lack of compensation means nothing.
— James C Wexell (@jimwexell) March 9, 2015
The Steelers offered “original round tenders” to the trio of restricted free agents. That means that if another team signs them, the Steelers would not get anything in return as compensation, because none of the men were drafted. However, the fact that the Steelers can match any offer will likely be enough to disusuade any team from targeting them.
- Which isn’t to say it won’t happen.
Two seasons ago the Green Bay Packers made a run at Steve McLendon, prompting the Steelers to quickly ink a long-term deal with McLendon. Likewise, the New England Patriots infamously made an offer to Emmanuel Sanders, which after considerable debate, the Steelers matched.
And of course the Steelers also lost Jerroll Williams to the San Diego Chargers when he got a one year contract offer back during free agency’s inaugural season in the NFL in 1993.
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