It has been a few days since the “re-sign, tag, walk” series made an appearance, in large part because of the focus on the potential release/trade of Miami Dolphins left tackle Branden Albert. It does return this morning, however, with one final exclusive rights free agent to discuss.
Exclusive rights free agents are players who have an expiring contract, but have played two or fewer seasons in the league. Teams have the ability to extend a tender to those players, which locks them into only being able to negotiate with the team, and it is typically a fairly low salary cap hit for the team with no guaranteed money included, so the team could cut the player during training camp or the preseason without taking on dead money.
Basically, an exclusive rights free agent who is extended a tender is a “free agent” in name only. Players who do not receive a tender prior to the start of free agency become unrestricted free agents.
And, really, the franchise tag is never going to be in play for an ERFA.
NFL free agency begins at 4pm ET on March 9. Anyone who is not under contract for the 2017 season will be able to begin signing with new teams - barring any restricted free agent tenders that have been placed on players with less than four years of service time in the league. Over the next few weeks, teams all across the league will be trying to re-sign their own players to new contracts in an effort to prevent players they want to keep from testing the open market.
The Dolphins have 20 players about whom they need to make decisions. We have been asking you as fans of the team to provide your thoughts on what the Dolphins should do for each of their upcoming free agents. We break down the history of the player, what they did for the team in 2016, the terms of their expiring contract, the estimated value for the franchise tag, and then as you to vote on the decision the team should make.
This morning, we resume with a look at center Anthony Steen.
Steen began his NFL career as an undrafted free agent, signing with the Arizona Cardinals. He spent the 2014 season on the Cardinals’ practice squad, then returned with the team in 2015, again spending time on the practice squad, but was released shortly after the regular season began. The Dolphins added Steen to their practice squad in November 2015.
Steen appeared in 15 games for the Dolphins in 2016, including being the team’s opening week starter with Mike Pouncey dealing with injuries. In all, he started seven games for the team, despite battling injuries throughout the season.
Steen’s expiring contract is a one-year, $525,000 contract (via overthecap.com).
The franchise tag is not a reasonable option for an exclusive rights free agent.
The Phinsider thoughts
As with the other ERFAs, there is not a lot of reason to not extend a tender to Steen. It will be a fairly cheap salary cap number, with no guaranteed money included, and it keeps a developing offensive lineman with the team. Miami is constantly in need of offensive line depth, and this would keep a player who knows the system, knows how to work with quarterback Ryan Tannehill, and provides experience with emergency duty during a game.
What should the Dolphins do with Steen? Vote below and feel free to discuss in the comments.