Difference Between Restricted and Unrestricted Free Agent

Restricted vs Unrestricted Free Agent

Restricted and unrestricted free agents are terms that are not heard in everyday life. These terms are applied to players playing in professional sporting leaguers, in the country. These terms are really misnomers as they are not used to designate agents of players but players themselves. There are many people who confuse between these two categories of players as they do not know the differences between restricted and unrestricted free agents. This article attempts to clear the air of confusion by highlighting the features that make players restricted and unrestricted free agents.

The difference between restricted and unrestricted free agents lies in the fact that an unrestricted free agent is a player who is free to accept any offer from any bidder to join a particular team, and he is not bound to remain under contract of a team. On the other hand, a restricted free agent is a player who has the liberty to shop around looking for high salary offers, but he cannot just leave his present team to join the team that has offered a higher salary as he has to give a period of 10 days to his present club team to match the offer that has been made to him. If his present employer raises his salary to match the new offer, he has to remain in the present club and cannot join the club that has made the high offer.

For example, in NBA, if a restricted free agent gets a higher salary offer of $5 million from a new club and his present team cannot match this offer in 10 days’ time, he is free to accept the new offer from the new club. However, in any case, he has to wait for a period of 10 days, to allow his present club team to make up their mind. However, no club can do anything to stop an unrestricted free agent from accepting the offer made by another club.

To become a restricted free agent in NFL, a player needs to be a bit experienced and must have played for 6 seasons for a particular club. In NHL, a player has to be over 27 years of age and must have at least 7 years of experience in the league to become a restricted free agent. In the case of NBA, an experience of 4 years in the league is enough for a player to become restricted free agent in certain circumstances.

What is the difference between Restricted and Unrestricted Free Agents?

• Both restricted as well as unrestricted free agents are players in different professional sporting leagues with some experience as they are not entry level players.

• A player whose present contract has expired and is without a team is an unrestricted free agent. He is free to accept offers from the highest bidders and no team can stop him from joining any team.

• Restricted free agent is also free to solicit offers from bidders, but has to wait for 10 days, to give his team to come up with a matching offer before he can join a new team.