Professional Sports Autograph Exclusive Market
In the world of stock cars and motorcycles there is one more term that may have escaped your attention during your time in high school and college – UFA. That’s short for “unlimited free agent.” A UFA is not restricted by contracts, restrictions or salary cap. If a company has more than one player on their roster who is a free agent, they are allowed to sign both players to a contract.
How does one become a UFA? They can become an unrestricted free agent when one of their former players retires or when a player is released from a team and signs with another club. Once a player becomes an unrestricted free agent, he is eligible to play in the NFL draft, provided that he was a member of the NFL team for at least three regular-season games. Players with at least two years of experience are eligible, but three years of experience will guarantee you a spot in the draft. When a player becomes a UFA he cannot be signed by another team until his contract expires.
There are three types of contracts that a UFA can enter into: the rookie contract, the transition contract and the practice contract. With the rookie contract, which lasts four years or until the player reaches unrestricted free agency, players are put on the exempt list. The transition contract is a three-year contract that allows the new team to draft the player and retain him for the entirety of the three-year contract. A practice contract allows a team to test the player one day a week and decide whether or not they want to bring him into the active lineup the next day.
Once a player becomes a UFA, he may sign a variety of contracts. The three most common are “term” type contracts, which allow the player five or six years of service, “termate” type contracts (meaning two years of service), and “prove-it” contracts (meaning the player will play in the NFL for a specified amount of time and receive money if he makes the required plays). If a player receives an offer to become a free agent, he has up to three weeks to accept or reject the offer. After accepting the offer he becomes an unrestricted free agent. If he rejects the offer he remains a free agent. Players can hold out to see if the teams willing to bring them into the league as a free agent.
Once a player becomes a UFA he is subject to all the rules of the UFA contract. He is not able to sign more than one contract during his entire career (although some leagues do have age limits on when a player can sign a contract and hold out until he turns 25 to hold out longer). He is not able to play for any other NFL team during his UFA years. A player’s eligibility for the draft is determined by his NFL playing career and he cannot be put on a practice/or physical list in order to be eligible for the NFL draft.
As you can see, the rules for the UFA system in the NFL are quite different from those of the CFL. The CSA does have rules that restrict players from signing with other NFL teams (they can sign with other international professional football league teams but not the NFL) but the rules for the NFL are much more restrictive. So the differences between the two leagues really don’t lie with the way they administer their amateur athletic programs. Rather, it lies with the structure of the sports marketing opportunities that UFA provides.