Retaining starters and free agent activity: Part 1

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The first day of free agency is always one of the biggest news days of the NFL off-season. Not only does free agency begin, but teams are busy getting down to the salary cap by releasing players or restructuring existing contracts.

In an article titled “2013 Free Agency: Setting the Stage”, DRAFTMETERICS pointed out that in 2012 35% of the Unrestricted Free Agents who changed teams did so in the first week of free agency and 56% changed teams in the first two weeks. There is no reason to expect that 2013 will be any different and, indeed, plenty of deals have already been done or are in progress. DRAFTMETRICS will leave the reporting of individual free agentsigning to others, but it will be tracking player movements at the team level by focusing on the players who started one game or more in the 2012 season. In this article DRAFTMETRICS reports the number of games started for each team by players in the following categories:

• Players who remain with their 2012 teams
• Players who are restricted free agents
• Players who are unrestricted free agents
• Players who were released or waived
• Players who were traded
• Players who retired

The total number of games started for each team is 352 (22 playing positions times 16 regular season games). Players will change categories as free agency progresses. For example, if an unrestricted free agent signs with his former team he will move from being an unrestricted free agent to a player who remains with his 2012 team.

The following table shows the breakdown of games started for each team as of the evening of March 12. Teams are shown in order of number of games started by players who have been retained. Based on past history, it is assumed that all restricted free agents will sign with their 2012 team so their starts are added to the games started by players under contract. As seems to be the case with everything else this offseason, the Seahawks and the 49ers are the leaders at this point in retaining starters with over 300 games started by players who remain from 2012. The Jets and Chargers bring up the rear with less than 200 games each.

This table will be periodically updated to reflect additional personnel activity. The table will also be expanded to include players signed from other teams to give a quantitative measure of each team’s experience heading into the 2013 season.

Tony is the founder of DRAFTMETRICS.COM can be e-mailed at and followed on Twitter @draftmetrics

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