When Does the 2023 NFL Free Agency Period Start

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When does the NFL free agency period start

When Does the 2023 NFL Free Agency Period Start


A crop of players are set to become unrestricted free agents when the new league year starts in March 2023. NFL player contracts from the 2022 league year expire soon. One of the biggest parts of the offseason begins as we move toward the next season. If you’re wondering when does the NFL free agency period start, here’s what you need to know.

When Does NFL Free Agency Start in 2023?

The NFL’s free agency period starts at 4 p.m. eastern on March 15, 2023. This marks the beginning of the league’s new year and the expiration of all player contracts. Between March 13-15, teams can reach out to certified agents of players prior to the start of free agency. They can discuss contracts with players who are about to become unrestricted free agents.

NFL teams are also expected to be under the salary cap before we see NFL free agency begin at 4 p.m. due to it being the start of the new league year. The salary cap for the 2023 season is set at $224.8 million. That’s a near-$20 million increase over the 2022 season.

Notable NFL Free Agents Available

There is some buzz surrounding the quarterback position with Lamar Jackson, David Carr, and Geno Smith on the free agent market. Jackson played on his fifth-year option for the Ravens in 2022 but his season was hampered by injuries. Squads like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers might be in the market for a QB after the retirement of Tom Brady.

Running backs Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs are notable names that should get some interest. Jacobs led the NFL in rushing for the Las Vegas Raiders in 2022 having his best NFL season. Barkley, who missed most of 2021 with an injury, is coming off his best season since his rookie year.

Orlando Brown Jr. is expected to hit free agency after the Chiefs franchise tagged the offensive lineman last season. Will they get a long-term deal done with the left tackle? Defensive tackle Javon Hargrave will be a highly sought-after talent at the start of NFL free agency. He was one of the league’s best at QB pressures last season registering double-digit sacks.

All eyes will be on which teams use the franchise tag to secure players who will be unrestricted free agents. We are seeing how other teams are finalizing qualifying offers. Teams must submit qualifying offers before the start at 4 p.m.

Franchise Players and Tags

In the NFL, the franchise tag allows teams to retain a player for one more year before they become a free agent. It involves offering the player a one-year contract worth the average of the top salaries at their position, or 120% of the player’s previous year’s salary, whichever is greater. There are two types of franchise tags: exclusive and non-exclusive.

The exclusive tag means the player can’t talk to 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 or receive draft pick compensation.

Placing the franchise tag can only be used once per year on one player, and if the player doesn’t sign a long-term deal by the deadline, they become a free agent the following year.

Players Who Are Restricted NFL Free Agents

To retain a restricted free agent, NFL clubs must submit qualifying offers to restricted free agents by March 15 at 4 PM ET, which marks the start of free agency. Without a qualifying offer, the player becomes an unrestricted free agent at the beginning of the new league year.

Restricted free agents are players who have completed three seasons with their current team and have an expired contract. They can negotiate with other teams, but their original team can match any offer and receive draft pick compensation if they choose not to match.

The level of compensation depends on the type of tender placed on the player, with first-round tenders providing the highest compensation.

Other Important 2023 NFL Offseason Dates

As the 2023 league year leads up to the regular season, there are a few more important dates to keep track of. The most notable is the 2023 NFL Draft which will take place at the end of April. The top available players from the college ranks will be drafted by NFL teams in a seven-round format.

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.

There is chaos in the free agency period ahead as it leads into the draft. Where will the long list of players who will become unrestricted free agents end up? NFL front offices have a busy few months ahead of them as they hope to find the cap space to sign top potential free agents.

When Does the NFL Free Agency Period Start FAQs

When does free agency start?

Free agency officially begins on March 15, 2023, at 4 p.m. eastern time. Teams can enter into contract negotiations with player’s agents starting on March 13. NFL teams are only permitted to contact the certified agent of a player.

What is the franchise tag?

The NFL franchise tag allows teams to keep their impending free agents for another season by offering them a one-year contract worth the average of the top salaries at their position or 120% of the player’s previous year’s salary. The tag can only be used on one player per year and can only be used for one season.

What is a restricted free agent?

A restricted free agent in the NFL is a player with an expired contract who has completed three seasons with their current team. Their original team has the right to match any offer and may receive draft pick compensation if they choose not to match.

What is a qualifying offer?

A qualifying offer is an offer made by a team to a restricted free agent to retain their rights. If a team doesn’t make a qualifying offer to a restricted free agent by the deadline, the player will become an unrestricted free agent.

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.