The deadline for signing restricted free agents to offers sheets came and went Thursday, meaning ONLY one player — RB Mike Bell — changed teams during that portion of free agency. The level of non-movement among restricted free agents was good news for the Saints, who offered tenders to 13 players whom other teams chose not to pursue, and lost only Bell, whom they chose to let leave.
Thursday’s deadline is somewhat inconsequential, though, as the Saints and other teams hold exclusive negotiating rights with their restricted free agents. If players don’t sign, teams can retain exclusive rights by extending qualifying offers on June 1. On June 15, teams can reduce offers and substitute new tenders at 110 percent of the players’ 2009 base salary to retain rights.
The most meaningful news from an RFA might be skipping a team’s offseason workouts or holding out past the deadlines and into training camps. Unsigned RFAs do have the option of signing injury waivers to participate in workouts.
Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said Friday, per The Times-Picayune, that he expects three of the team’s RFAs to sign Monday when players report to offseason conditioning: WR Courtney Roby, LB Marvin Mitchell and FS Usama Young.
The Saints’ remaining five RFAs are still in limbo, though, as the team isn’t sure about the intentions of OT Jammal Brown, OG Jahri Evans, SS Roman Harper, RB Pierre Thomas and WR Lance Moore.
It will be interesting to follow the status of Brown, a two-time Pro Bowl pick who told The Times-Picayune earlier this week he won’t attend next week’s workouts. Brown, who missed all of last season, was reportedly extended a first- and third-round tender from the Saints that would play $3.619 million in 2010.