- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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We’ve made mention several times in recent weeks about how the Saints’ great season will work against them a bit when it comes to free agency. The rules are a little different this year because of the uncapped season and the top eight teams from last year won’t be playing by the same rules as the other 24. The final four teams, including the Saints, will feel the impact the most.
The NFL just sent out a release to the media with explanations of a lot of the new rules. I thought the overview of what the league is calling “The Final Plan’’ would be of particular interest to New Orleans fans. Here it is:
During the Final League Year, the eight clubs that make the Divisional Playoffs in the previous season have additional restrictions that limit their ability to sign unrestricted free agents from other clubs. In general, the four clubs participating in the championship games are limited in the number of unrestricted free agents that they may sign; the limit is determined by the number of their own unrestricted free agents signing with other clubs. They cannot sign any UFAs unless one of theirs is signed by another team.
For the four clubs that lost in the Divisional Playoffs, in addition to having the ability to sign unrestricted free agents based on the number of their own unrestricted free agents signing with other clubs, they may also sign players based on specific financial parameters. Those four only will be permitted to sign one unrestricted free agent for $5,807,475 million or more in year one of the contract, plus the number of their UFAs who sign with another team. They also can sign any unrestricted free agents for no more than $3,861,823 million in year one of the contract with limitations on the per year increases.
In the case of all final eight teams, the first year salary of UFAs they sign to replace those lost cannot exceed the first year salary of the player lost with limitations on the per year increases.'