Football Ops

Football Ops

Protecting the integrity of the greatest game.

NFL Ops: Honoring the Game

It's our responsibility to strengthen the sport.

League Governance

Ensuring a consistent and fair game that is decided on the field, by the players.

NFL Rules Enforcement

Ensuring that players conduct themselves in a way that honors the sport and respects the game.

Fines & Appeals

The NFL's schedule of infractions and fines, and a process for appeal.

NFL Careers in Football Forum

The NFL strives to cultivate a qualified and diverse workforce.

Economic & Social Impact

Honoring the league’s commitment to serve the communities where the game is played.

The NFL Ops Team

Meet the people behind NFL Operations.

The Game

The Game

Learn about the people, the jobs and the technology that deliver the best game possible to NFL fans across the U.S. and around the world. 

Gameday: Behind the Scenes

Countdown to kickoff: how NFL games happen.


In the NFL, balancing technology with tradition.

Impact of Television

How television has changed the game.

History of Instant Replay

Upon further review…

Creating the NFL Schedule

It takes hundreds of computers and four NFL executives to create the NFL's 256-game masterpiece.

The Players

The Players

Learn how NFL players have changed over time, how they’re developed and drafted and how the league works with them after their playing days are over.  

Evolution of the NFL Player

Creating an NFL player: from “everyman” to “superman.”

Development Pipeline

Supporting the next generation of players and fans.

Getting Into the Game

Preparing players of all ages for success at football’s highest level.

The NFL Draft

Introducing the next wave of NFL superstars. 

NFL Player Engagement

A look at the programs the NFL and its partners provide to help every player before, during and after his football career.

NFL Legends Community

Celebrating, educating, embracing and connecting all former NFL players with each other, their former teams and the league.

The Officials

The Officials

Discover the evolution of professional officiating, the weekly evaluation process and how the NFL identifies and develops the next generation of officials.

In Focus: History of the Official

“One thing hasn’t changed: the pressure. It will always be there.”

Inside NFL GameDay Central

The latest information from the NFL's officiating command center.

These Officials Are Really Good

Every week, officials take the field ready to put months of preparation, training and hard work on display, knowing that the whole world — and the Officiating Department — is watching.

Officiating Development

Officiating an NFL game takes years of training and experience. 

The Rules

The Rules

NFL Football Operations protects the integrity of the game by ensuring that the rules and the officiating are consistent and fair to all competitors.

In Focus: Evolution of the NFL Rules

The custodians of football not only have protected its integrity, but have also revised its playing rules to protect the players, and to make the games fairer and more entertaining.

2017 NFL Rulebook

Explore the official rules of the game.

NFL Video Rulebook

The NFL Video Rulebook explains NFL rules with video examples.

2017 Rules Changes and Points of Emphasis

NFL Overtime Rules

NFL Tiebreaking Procedures

The NFL's procedures for breaking ties for postseason playoffs.

Signals Intelligence

The NFL's familiar hand signals help fans better understand the game.   

Football 101

Football 101

Terms Glossary

Sharpen your NFL football knowledge with this glossary of the game's fundamental terms. 

Formations 101

See where the players line up in pro football's most common offensive and defensive formations.

Quick Guide to NFL TV Graphics

Understand what the graphics on NFL television broadcasts mean and how they can help you get the most out of watching NFL games.

NFL Instant Replay Process

The NFL’s instant replay review process focuses on expediting instant replay reviews and ensuring consistency. Learn how it works.

Stats Central

Stats Central

Go inside the game with the NFL's official game stats. Sort the stats by season or by week.

Chart The Data

Chart and compare the NFL Football Operations stats you're looking for with the NFL's data tool. 

Weekly Dashboard

Get a snapshot of the current NFL game stats, updated weekly during the regular season.

Q. When does the 2018 free agency signing period begin?

A. At 4 p.m. ET, Wednesday, March 14.

Q. What are the free agency categories?

A. Players are either restricted free agents or unrestricted free agents. A restricted free agent may be subject to a qualifying offer. A restricted or unrestricted free agent may be designated by his prior club as its franchise player or transition player.

Q. What is the free agency signing period in 2018?

A. For restricted free agents – March 14 to April 20.

For unrestricted free agents who have received a May 8 tender from their prior club – March 14 to July 23 (or the first scheduled day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is later).

For franchise players – March 14 until the Tuesday following Week 10 of the regular season, Nov. 13.

For transition players – March 14 until July 23. After July 23 and until 4 p.m. ET on the Tuesday following Week 10 of the regular season, Nov. 13, the prior club has exclusive negotiating rights to unrestricted free agents and transition players. If the above-listed players do not sign by Nov. 13, they must sit out the season. 

Q. What is the difference between a restricted free agent and an unrestricted free agent?

A. In the 2018 league year, players with three accrued seasons who have received a qualifying offer become restricted free agents when their contracts expire at the end of the 2017 league year on March 14.

Unrestricted free agents have completed four or more accrued seasons. Upon expiration of his 2017 contract, an unrestricted free agent can sign with any club with no draft choice compensation owed to his old club.

Q. What constitutes an accrued season?

Six or more regular-season games on a club's active/inactive, reserved/injured or reserve/physically unable to perform lists.

Q. How do the free agency rules apply to restricted free agents?

If a player with three accrued seasons has received a qualifying offer — a salary tender predetermined by the CBA — from his old club, he can negotiate with any club through April 20. If the restricted free agent signs an offer sheet with a new club, his old club can match the offer and keep him because they have a right of first refusal on any offer sheet the player signs. If the old club does not match the offer, it may receive draft choice compensation depending on the amount of its qualifying offer. If an offer sheet is not executed on or before April 20, the player’s negotiating rights revert exclusively to his old club. Before the start of free agency, a player who would be a restricted free agent may be designated by his old club as its franchise player or transition player.

Q. What determines an unrestricted free agent?

A. A player with four or more accrued seasons whose contract has expired. He is free to sign with any club — with no draft choice compensation owed to his old club — through July 23 or the first scheduled day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is later. His negotiating rights revert exclusively to his old club if by May 8 the old club tendered the player a one-year contract for 110 percent of his prior year’s salary. His old club then has until the Tuesday following Week 10 of the regular season (Nov. 13) to sign him. If he does not sign by that date, he must sit out the season. If no tender is offered by May 8, the player can be signed by any club at any time throughout the season.

Q. What determines a franchise player?

A. The salary offer by a player’s club determines what type of franchise player he is: exclusive or non-exclusive.

An “exclusive” franchise player — not free to sign with another club — is offered the greater of the average of the top five salaries at the player's position for the current year as of the end of the restricted free agent signing period on April 20; or the amount of the required tender for a non-exclusive franchise player, as explained below.

Article 10, Section 2(a)(i) of the CBA sets the Cap Percentage Average, for calculating the required tender for a non-exclusive franchise player:

The Non-exclusive Franchise Tender shall be a one year NFL player contract for

  1. The average of the five largest prior year salaries for players at the player’s position. The average shall be calculated by:
    1. Adding the values of the franchise tags for players at that position for the five preceding league years
    2. Dividing that amount by the sum of the salary caps for the five preceding league years
    3. Multiplying that percentage by the salary cap for the upcoming league year (the Cap Percentage Average)
  2. Or, 120% of his Prior Year Salary, whichever is greater

If a club extends a required tender to a “non-exclusive” franchise player, the player can negotiate a contract with any club, except that his old club can receive compensation of two first-round draft selections if he signs with a new club.

Q. How many franchise players and transition players can a team designate each season?

A. A club can designate one franchise player or one transition player among its potential restricted or unrestricted free agents.

Q. Can a club withdraw its franchise or transition designation on a player?

A. Yes. A club can withdraw its franchise or transition designation. The player then automatically becomes an unrestricted free agent, either immediately if the tender is withdrawn after the start of the 2018 league year, or when his 2017 contract expires if the tender is withdrawn before the start of the 2018 league year.

Q. What is the salary cap for 2018?

A. The salary cap is $177,200,000 per club.

Q. When must teams be in compliance with the salary cap?

A. At the start of the 2018 league year, which begins at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 14.

Q. If a team is under the salary cap at the end of a given season, can the team “carry over” room to the next season?

A. Yes. A team may carry over room from one league year to the following league year by submitting notice to the NFL prior to 4 p.m. ET on the day following the team’s final regular-season game, indicating the amount of room that the club wishes to carry over.

Q. What is the maximum amount of room that a club can carry over?

A. A club can carry over 100 percent of its remaining 2017 room to its adjusted salary cap for 2018.