We still have yet to hear which tender the Ravens have given to a few of their restricted free agents, but until I've got more news to pass along, I thought I'd do my best to break down how the RFA period works.
It's a complicated process, although after today, a good portion of the confusing stuff will be over.
Teams had until today to tender their restricted free agents (guys whose contracts have expired and have more than three but less than six years of accrued service time) with one of four levels of tenders.
The tenders are directly related to how much money the player would earn in 2010 and also carry varying levels of compensation should another team choose to sign that player to an offer sheet.
The offer sheets are the next part of the process, and I'll use Jared Gaither as an example of how this piece goes down.
The Ravens gave Gaither a first-round tender, which would pay him $2.3 million for 2010. But other teams can still negotiate with Gaither and attempt to add him to their roster by signing him to an offer sheet.
If a team puts in an offer on Gaither, the Ravens can choose to match it and sign Gaither under the terms of that offer sheet. Another option, however, is to let Gaither walk and accept a first-round pick as compensation from his new team.
Got all that?
Now one thing that makes this whole process even trickier is that if a team wants to be certain that their offer sheet is not matched, they can include what are known as "poison pills".
SI.com's Ross Tucker explained them well in a recent piece, saying that if, for example, the Dolphins wanted to sign Cowboys RFA wideout Miles Austin, Miami could put together an offer sheet that says if Austin played more than four games in the state of Texas, his contract would need to be the highest on the team and 100 percent guaranteed.
Jerry Jones would not be interested in paying Austin as much as DeMarcus Ware, so he would have no choice but to let the wide receiver join the Dolphins.
Yup, these NFL execs are crafty, all right.
When free agency begins at 12:01 a.m. tomorrow, a lot of the focus will be on unrestricted guys like Julius Peppers, Karlos Dansby and Dunta Robinson.
But don't be surprised if attention quickly shifts to the restricted free agents after that first wave of UFAs gets scooped up. No one really knows how free agency will play out in the uncapped year, but the expectation is there will be more movement among the RFAs than in years past.