Each league has a pool of free agents that includes players cut from other teams and players skipped in the amateur draft. Some general guidelines on the free agency system:
- You can only bid on free agents in a league which you own a team.
- Free agents will only sign during the ''preseason'' and ''regular'' season. They will not sign after the last day of the regular season.
- Free agents consider offers during the league's simulation, (meaning the sim has to be running). If it's preseason they do not make decisions after each contract offer is submitted.
- Free agents will wait a minimum time before making a decision (to give other owners a chance to make counteroffers). The actual time depends on the sim rate.
- 2 games per day league's: minimum 4 days from first offer, one day from most recent offer, maximum 8 days from oldest offer.
- 4 games per day league's: minimum 2 days from first offer, 12 hours from most recent offer, maximum 4 days from oldest offer.
- 8 games per day league's: minimum 1 day from first offer, 6 hours from most recent offer, maximum 2 days from oldest offer.
- Free agents will always make a contract decision if the highest offer is at least 50% over his base (minimum asking) salary.
Note that "days" are calendar days, not sim days.
Bidding & The Salary Cap
For example, your league has a $50 million salary cap, and your team payroll is at $48 million. You can sign a free agent(s) that will take you all the way to $50,000,000 exactly. If you do bid on more than one player, their bid amounts will count against your teams salary for other bids you made. So you can bid on Player A for $1 million, and Player B for $1 million, but if you want Player C who is also at $1 million, you will need to cut/trade some salary before placing your bid on Player C.
Any bids that take you over the salary cap, in this case $50,000,001 and up, will not be processed. You will be prompted with this message from the popup bid box if you try to make a bid that will take you over the salary cap: You cannot submit a free agent claim for that much, because it will take your team salary over the league salary cap.
Free Agent Decision Factors
When you submit an offer to a free agent, you have the option of offering ''more'' than their asking salary, (this is common when multiple teams are bidding on the same player). If you sign a player at more than his asking salary, the amount offered over the player's base salary will be reduced by 50% each year. If the amount offered ever gets to 10% or less of a player's base salary, it is dropped altogether.
Free agents will not make a decision solely based on salary if he has multiple contract offers. Some of the factors which influence a player's decision to sign with your team include:
- The winning percentage of your team, (players prefer winners).
- Whether or not the player is better than the best player at the same position on your team. If he is better, he's more likely to start, so he's more likely to sign. If he's worse, he's less likely to sign, and may look to play elsewhere.
- The overall payroll of your team. A higher payroll makes a player less likely to sign, as there is a greater chance of him being cut in the future for salary cap reasons.
- Whether you ever cut the player from your team in the past. Players don't like to go back to teams that previously cut them.
Free Agent Roster Placement
When you sign a free agent he will join either your AAA or low minors. If the player has no active roster experience and you have room in your low minors roster (low minors has a maximum of 20 players), he will be assigned there. If the player has one or more years experience, or if you have insufficient room in your low minors roster, he will be assigned to AAA. See Minor League Development Bonus