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We'll spend part of Wednesday sifting through the various forms of free agency as the market sets to open late Thursday night (at least in the central time zone).
My NFC West colleague, Mike Sando, offers a nice primer on restricted free agency (RFA), a system for players with three years of accrued experience. By offering one of four tenders, a team can ensure a player's return for 2009 by matching any offer he might receive on the market. There is also an opportunity for compensation if the original team decides against matching.
First, let's look at the four tenders for 2009:
The deadline for offering tenders is Thursday. In the NFC North, Green Bay has the most decisions to make -- not surprising, considering the Packers were the NFL's youngest team in 2008. Here is the full list of NFC North restricted free agents by team, based on information distributed by the NFL Players Association:
If a player signs his tender, that relinquishes his rights to negotiate with another team.
To me, the Black and Blue's most interesting RFA is Bigby, who seemed on his way to big things after the 2007 season. Injuries limited him to seven largely ineffective games in 2008, and his value isn't totally clear. The Packers would like to rely on him as a starter in 2009, but the reality is that Bigby has missed 12 of a possible 40 games because of injury during his career.
At the same time, it's possible another team would make him an offer if the Packers apply the low $1.01 million tender. UPDATED/CORRECTION: Bigby was undrafted, so he would require no compensation at the low tender. I agree with Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. If their goal is to discourage another team's interest, the Packers probably will have to offer the second-round tender of $1.545 million.