When Does NFL Free Agency End

Social Navigation

When does NFL free agency end

When Does NFL Free Agency End


NFL free agency is here and it’s going to get wild. A list of strong players are expected to become unrestricted free agents on March 15. The 2022 NFL season is in the books, the Chiefs are the champs, and everyone else is looking to build a strong roster for the fall. When does NFL free agency start and end? Here’s what you need to know.

NFL Free Agency Start Date

NFL free agency is set to kick off on March 15, 2023. It starts officially at 4 p.m. eastern time. It’s the beginning of the new league year and there is a long list of players who will become unrestricted free agents. They are free to sign with any team that has salary cap space.

Prior to the start, NFL teams are allowed to begin contract negotiations with certified agents of players starting on March 13. On the 15th, all player contracts for the 2022 season expire. They have that short window where they are permitted to contact agents to get a jump on the market.

When Does Free Agency End?

Free agency technically runs until the beginning of next season. Players can still be signed throughout the season. April 21 is an important date as it’s the deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets.

There are specific restrictions set during the regular season. Franchise and transition players must sign after week 10 of the regular season or they must sit out the season.

Franchise Players and the Franchise Tag

In the NFL, teams can use the franchise tag to keep their top players for another year, even if they’re about to become free agents.

It allows teams to offer players a one-year contract that’s worth the average of the top salaries at their position or 120% of the player’s previous year’s salary, whichever is greater. This prevents players from becoming free agents and keeps them with their current team for at least one more season.

There are two types of franchise tags: the exclusive tag and the non-exclusive tag. The exclusive tag means that the player cannot negotiate with other teams, while the non-exclusive tag allows other teams to make offers to the player.

If the player signs with another team, the original team can match the offer and keep the player or let the player go and receive compensation in the form of draft picks.

However, teams can only use the franchise tag on one player per year, and it can only be used for one season. If a player is tagged and the team does not sign them to a long-term contract by the deadline, the player will play on the one-year tag and become a free agent the following year.

Restricted Free Agents

A restricted free agent in the NFL is a player who has completed at least three accrued seasons of six or more games with their current team and has an expired contract. It’s important to note, a restricted free agent may negotiate with other teams. Their original team has the right to match any offer and may receive draft pick compensation if they choose not to match. 

To retain a restricted free agent, NFL teams must submit qualifying offers by the start of the new NFL league year on March 15, 2023. Remember, qualifying offers to restricted free agents allow teams to match offers.

A qualifying offer is an offer made by a team to a restricted free agent to retain their rights as an NFL player. Without a qualifying offer, the player becomes an unrestricted free agent. The deadline for submitting qualifying offers varies each year, but it typically falls around the beginning of free agency.

2023 NFL Free Agents: Top Available Players

Players with an expiring contract and no franchise tag or qualifying offer, are set to become unrestricted free agents upon the clock hitting 4 p.m. on March 15. At that time, unrestricted free agents are able to sign with any club that has the available cap space.

Many players sign quickly due to negotiations with the certified agents taking place from March 13-15. Here are a few of the top unrestricted free agents upon expiration of their contracts on March 15, 2023.


Most of the buzz is around former MVP Lamar Jackson but there are other QBs that will get some attention. Geno Smith is a free agent after setting career highs with the Seahawks. Derek Carr is a free agent after parting ways with the Raiders after being benched. Giants’ signal caller Daniel Jones is also on the market but might get the franchise tag.

Running Backs

Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs will be highly sought-after free agents at the start of the period. Barkley is coming off his best season since his rookie year. Jacobs led the NFL in rushing during the 2022 season.

Offensive Linemen

Orlando Brown Jr. might stay with the Chiefs club as its franchise player while Mike McGlinchey and Jason Kelce are also available.

Defensive Linemen

Javon Hargrave will get much-deserved attention after a double-digit sack season. He might end up with one of the top five salaries at his position. Daron Payne was set to be available after 11.5 sacks and 18 tackles for loss in 2022, but Washington placed the Franchise Tag on him.

2023 NFL Salary Cap

Teams are required to get below the NFL salary cap before the beginning of free agency due to it being the start of the league year. The salary cap for 2023 is $224.8 million. That is an increase of almost $20 million compared to what we saw during 2022 NFL free agency.

More 2023 NFL Offseason Dates

The regular season might be months away, but there are still important dates coming up after free agency. Here’s a look at a few other important off-season dates over the next couple of months.

March 26-29: Annual league meetings are held in Phoenix, Arizona.

April 21: The deadline for restricted free agents to sign their offer sheets.

April 27-29: The 2023 NFL Draft in Kansas City, Missouri at Union Station.

When Does NFL Free Agency End FAQs

What is a qualifying offer?

A contract a team extends to a player to make them a restricted free agent. Other clubs are permitted to contact and negotiate with the player, but his club can match the offer and retain him.

When does free agency start?

NFL free agency begins on March 15, 2023, at 4 p.m. eastern time. It’s the official start of the new league year. Teams are permitted to contact and enter into negotiations starting on the 13th with specific rules set by the league.

When does free agency end?

Free agency in the NFL doesn’t have a fixed end date. However, most of the high-profile players sign within the first few weeks of the free agency period, with a few stragglers remaining on the market until training camp or later. There are specific restrictions once the season begins. A free agent may be subject to different negotiations and rules.

What is the franchise tag?

The franchise tag is a mechanism in the NFL that allows a team to keep one of its players for an additional year. This is accomplished by offering the player a one-year contract that is typically equal to the average of the top salaries at the player’s position, or 120% of the player’s previous year’s salary, whichever is greater.

What is the legal tampering period?

Teams are allowed to contact and enter into contract negotiations with the certified agents of players on the two days leading up to free agency from March 13-15. This is why you see NFL player contracts quickly signed once free agency begins.

Author: Sam Russell

Sam hails from Grandville, Michigan. He has a rich sports background, including playing baseball at Central Michigan before covering high school sports and working with the Orlando Magic. He earned his degree from Central Michigan University and was a member of the 2010 MAC Championship baseball team. Sam grew his knowledge of sports betting while working with Betsperts in various areas such as writing, social media, betting research, and business development. He's a big fan of the NBA, NFL, and MLB, highly interested in data and statistics.