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2015 NFL Free Agency Begins Today: What Can We Expect From Patriots?

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Happy new year, everybody!

"I like the smell of new contracts in the morning."
"I like the smell of new contracts in the morning."
Rob Carr/Getty Images

We are approaching the start of the 2015 NFL league year: at 4:00 p.m. ET, the calender officially turns to 2015. This means the following:

Prior to 4 p.m. ET, clubs must exercise options for 2015 on all players who have option clauses in their 2014 contracts

Prior to 4 p.m. ET, clubs must submit qualifying offers to their Restricted Free Agents with expiring contracts and to whom they desire to retain a Right of First Refusal/Compensation

Prior to 4 p.m. ET, clubs must submit a Minimum Salary Tender to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with expiring 2014 contracts and who have fewer than three accrued seasons of free agency credit

Top-51 Begins. All clubs must be under the 2015 salary cap prior to 4 p.m. ET

All 2014 player contracts expire at 4 p.m. ET

2015 league year and free agency period begins (4 p.m. ET)

Trading period for 2015 begins (4 p.m. ET)

(per CBS)

What does this mean for the New England Patriots? Let's go through it step by step.

Prior to 4 p.m. ET, clubs must exercise options for 2015 on all players who have option clauses in their 2014 contracts

If the Patriots want to pick up a player's contract option, they have to do so prior to the start of the new league year or the player will become an Unrestricted Free Agent and is therefore free to sign with any team in the league.

New England has four players with options in their contracts: Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, Vince Wilfork and Nate Solder. Revis', Browner's and Wilfork's options will, according to various sources, not get exercised. There is, however, still the possibility that the Patriots reach a contract extension with any of them, because until 4:00 p.m., the team has exclusive negotiation rights.

The fourth player, Nate Solder, also has an option clause in his contract. Under the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement, teams have the ability to pick up a first round draft pick's fifth year option prior to the player's fourth year in the league. The Patriots did this in April 2014. Thus, Solder's $7.4 million salary will become fully guaranteed with the start of the new league year. Therefore, the Patriots might extend their left tackle today, to get some cap relief.

Prior to 4 p.m. ET, clubs must submit qualifying offers to their Restricted Free Agents with expiring contracts and to whom they desire to retain a Right of First Refusal/Compensation

No Patriots are set to become restricted free agents; the team does not have to worry about this.

Prior to 4 p.m. ET, clubs must submit a Minimum Salary Tender to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with expiring 2014 contracts and who have fewer than three accrued seasons of free agency credit

The following Patriots players are Exclusive Rights Free Agents:

WR Greg Orton

LB James Morris

FB James Develin

WR Brian Tyms

DT Sealver Siliga

Prior to the start of the new league year, those players can only sign contracts with the Patriots, provided they receive a minimum salary one-year offer. Otherwise, they would become Unrestricted Free Agents at 4:00 p.m.. Expect all players to receive such an offer today. For more information on the ERFA-process, look at this blog post by patscap.com's Miguel Benzan.

Top-51 Begins. All clubs must be under the 2015 salary cap prior to 4 p.m. ET


The 2015 salary cap has been set at $143.28 million. All clubs have to be under this number by the start of the new league year. Right now, according to Miguel, the Patriots are under the cap by about $9.5 million, a number that includes the loss of Vince Wilfork, re-signing Devin McCourty and not picking up Darrelle Revis' contract option.

If the Patriots want to extend Revis today, they probably have to free up a little more cap space. Extending Solder or restructuring a player like Danny Amendola might be the way to go.

Top-51 means that only a team's top 51 contracts count against the salary cap.

All 2014 player contracts expire at 4 p.m. ET


We and all Patriots players under contract are on to 2015. The rest is set to hit free agency:

LS Danny Aiken

LB Akeem Ayers

DT Alan Branch

LB Jonathan Casillas

OG Dan Connolly

RB Stevan Ridley

RB Shane Vereen

LB Chris White


2015 league year and free agency period begins (4 p.m. ET)


The free agency frenzy begins as teams can officially offer contracts that players are officially allowed to sign; something both parties were prohibited to do even during the "legal tampering period".

Trading period for 2015 begins (4 p.m. ET)


Do not expect a lot of trades happen today (if any). This is something that becomes more common the closer we get to the NFL Draft.

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Today will be a busy day. Make sure to check Pats Pulpit regularly to stay informed.