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For the record: Breakdown of Bills 2013 free-agent class

By Tim Graham

Here is a breakdown of the Buffalo Bills' 2013 free-agent class and what their designations mean.

Unrestricted free agents (13)

Teams have exclusive negotiating rights, but once free-agency begins, players are free to negotiate with other clubs. Original team receives no compensation if the player signs elsewhere.

The original team has the option to place a franchise tag on one unrestricted free agent (a guaranteed one-year salary at the average of the five highest-paid players at the position or a 20 percent raise, whichever is greater) or one transition tag (a guaranteed one-year salary at the average of the 10 highest-paid players at the position).

"Exclusive" franchise tags prohibit the player from negotiating with other clubs. A team that uses a "nonexclusive" franchise tag on a player and then declines to match an offer sheet from another club will receive two first-round draft choices from that team. Transition tags offer no such compensation.

  • • Jairus Byrd, safety
  • • Tashard Choice, running back
  • • Tarvaris Jackson, quarterback
  • • Spencer Johnson, defensive end
  • • Andy Levitre, left guard
  • • Ruvell Martin, wide receiver
  • • Corey McIntyre, fullback
  • • Leodis McKelvin, cornerback
  • • Shawne Merriman, defensive end
  • • Kyle Moore, defensive end
  • • Chad Rinehart, offensive lineman
  • • Bryan Scott, linebacker
  • • Tyler Thigpen, quarterback

Restricted free agents (3)

The player may negotiate with other teams. But if the original club extends a qualifying offer to the player, then it retains right of first refusal to match any outside contract offer. There are three types of qualifying offers, offering different levels of payment and draft compensation if the player leaves.

Exclusive-rights free agents (2)

ERFA's are free agents in name only. They are players with two years of NFL experience or less and have expiring contracts. They may not negotiate with other clubs. If they are extended a contract offer, they must accept or not play at all.

  • • Mike Caussin, tight end
  • • Dorin Dickerson, tight end/fullback


2013 free agency | Andy Levitre | Bryan Scott | Colin Brown | David Nelson | Donald Jones | Dorin Dickerson | For the record | Jairus Byrd | Kyle Moore | Leodis McKelvin | Mike Caussin | Ruvell Martin | Shawne Merriman | Spencer Johnson | Tarvaris Jackson | Tashard Choice | Tyler Thigpen
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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |