How Do Russian Pros Get signed by the NFL?
Each year NFL players and teams hold sports books open for business one day in the summer. These sports books are run by professional book makers who have a strong interest in pro football, college football, baseball and the other sports leagues. They work hard to ensure that the sportbooks are regularly visited by a wide variety of people who enjoy betting or gaming.
An Unricted Free Agent (UTA) is normally free to sign with ANY team, and then their past team receives no compensation for signing the player. A Limited Offer Contract (LIC) is an agreement between a player and a team that restrict the player’s ability to play football for a certain period of time. Both the team and player agree to the deal. A Limited or Unrestricted Free Agent may sign a contract for one season only, but a player is not restricted in which team he/she may play for during the off season. If a player becomes unrestricted after the end of his/her current contract, a team MUST offer him/her a Contract Extension (C.E.)
In order for a player to become a qualified free agent, three factors must be met. Firstly, the player must sign a contract with an NFL club. The player may sign an offer sheet provided that he has reached the age of twenty-one before the start of his current contract. Secondly, the player must NOT be involved in any legal issues (i.e. DUI/DWI, drug/alcohol related charges, etc.)
The third factor which determines whether a player becomes an unrestricted free agent, is whether he/she is given an unconditional “entry draft choice” by the NFL club which drafts him/her. Should this occur, then the player would receive the rights to play in the league for a certain number of seasons under the terms of the draft. The player’s salary, scholarship bonuses and other compensation provided by the club at the time of the draft become guaranteed rights (unless suspended). This means that the player is now FREE to sign with ANY team in the league at any point during the new contract. The downside here is that should a team wish to retain the player past the expiry date, he/she will need to earn a bonus based on the performance of the team that drafts him/her.
As I outlined earlier, the draft is the most important factor in determining if a player becomes a UFA or not. Each NFL club has the right to choose one player out of the millions of players eligible to play in NFL games. If no player from the pool of eligible players is chosen, the next best available player is then chosen. The NFL draft is conducted over a four week period, which is called the NFL draft combine. During the combine, the top prospects in the amateur football draft are invited to participate in pro and college athletic events in order to showcase their talents and abilities and to help determine who among this group of prospects will become the next “big thing” in the professional football industry.
The second rule, which prohibits a player from signing a contract with any other NFL club after the conclusion of his UFA season is a controversial rule that has been in place since the inception of the NFL. Since the draft of ratione sashvarna, the NFL has prohibited any player from signing a contract with an NFL club during his ufa term even though he may have been offered such a contract by an eligible foreign club. In recent times, however, the NFL has begun to allow players who have qualified as unrestricted free agents the right to negotiate an extension of their contract if they so choose prior to the end of their ufa season.