Seventy-three veteran free agents re-signed with their old teams this year during the unrestricted free agency signing period, while 93 signed with new teams, the National Football League announced. The four-month UFA signing period, under terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and players, ended July 22.
The number of free agents who switched teams decreased significantly this year to a four-year low and the second-lowest number in the nine-year history of the current system.
The New England Patriots signed the most unrestricted free agents from other teams, nine, followed by the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs with eight apiece, and the Washington Redskins with seven.
There were a total of 292 unrestricted free agents this year. The total player pool is approximately 1,700.
In addition, four of this year's 112 restricted free agents signed with new teams, while 97 returned to their former clubs. The period for restricted free agents to accept offers from other teams ended April 16.
The 97 total free agents who switched teams represent only six percent of all NFL players. Of 471 players who were free agents in the various categories of the system, 275 signed new contracts with either new teams or their old clubs.
"The veteran free agent signings reflect an ongoing awareness on the part of teams and players that continuity and stability are more important in our sport, perhaps, than in others," said Harold Henderson, executive vice president of labor relations and chairman of the NFL Management Council. "The system is maintaining the competitive balance that is so important in our sport."
Under the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement, those players without 2001 contracts who had four or more seasons of free agency experience were termed "unrestricted free agents" and were free to sign with any club between March 2 and July 22.
If a player's prior club made a 110 percent tender on or before June 1, the prior club retained exclusive negotiating rights after July 22 if the player did not sign with another club. If the player and club are unable to negotiate a contract by the 10th week of the regular season, the player may not play the remainder of the season. If the player sits out the season, he becomes an unrestricted free agent next year.
Under the CBA, restricted free agents are those players who have three seasons of free agency experience and are subject to compensation and/or right of first refusal.
A "transition" player is a designated unrestricted free agent whose team must tender a one-year contract at the average of the 10 highest-paid players of 2000 at the transition player's position, or a 20 percent increase, whichever is greater. A "franchise" player is a designated unrestricted free agent whose team must tender a one-year contract at the average of the five highest-paid players at the franchise player's position in 2000, or a 20 percent increase, whichever is greater.
Unrestricted free agents signed by the San Diego Chargers: Tackle Ed Ellis, Washington; Corner Back Alex Molden, New Orleans; Defensive End Marcellus Wiley, Buffalo.
Unrestricted free agents re-signed by the Chargers: Defensive End Albert Fontenot and Guard Raleigh Roundtree.
One restricted free agent signed by the Chargers Kicker Wade Richey from San Francisco.
Four restricted free agents re-signed by the Chargers: Guard DeMingo Graham, Center Kendyl Jacox, Wide Receiver Reggie Jones, Quarterback Moses Moreno (later released), and Defensive Tackle Jamal Williams.