When Does 2024 NFL Free Agency Start? Date, Time, Players, and More

Kirk Cousins and Josh Jacobs will be two marquee free agents this offseason. But when can teams contact and sign them? Here's when the 2024 period starts.

The next big season for the NFL is officially on the horizon: free agency.

NFL fans are hoping to see big changes made for their respective teams, including the ones who aspire to see them topple the Kansas City Chiefs next season. Meanwhile, other franchises have already begun the process of clearing cap room by informing 2023 starters they’ll be released.

But for those fans who are eager for NFL free agency to officially begin, how long do they have to wait? Here are the important league dates involving the 2024 free agency period.

Start Date for 2024 NFL Free Agency

Free agency begins at the start of the new league year. That’s when player contracts from the season before officially expire, setting them up to become free agents. In 2024, the new league year begins on March 13 at 4 p.m. ET.

The “legal tampering period” begins 52 hours before, however, on March 11 at Noon ET. Because players are still under contract, any agreement they make in principle cannot be legally binding until Wednesday at 4 p.m.

  • Legal tampering period: Monday, March 11
  • 2023 NFL free agency start date: Wednesday, March 13

Who Are Some of the Top Free Agents Available This Year?

Expect a pretty quarterback-heavy class for this upcoming free agency cycle. Already, one past Super Bowl winner is set to be available on the market, as the Denver Broncos decided to release Russell Wilson ahead of the free agency period.

While Wilson is anticipated to find a new NFL home, Kirk Cousins will be one name who is expected to have some offers right in front of him. PFN lists the multiple-time Pro Bowler as the No. 1 free agent QB ahead of the upcoming cycle.

Elsewhere at the quarterback position, Baker Mayfield comes in right behind Cousins as the second-best free agent QB available. He recently guided the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to an NFC Divisional playoff appearance — which involved knocking off the defending conference champion Philadelphia Eagles.

Outside of Cousins and Mayfield, Gardner Minshew II has repositioned himself as a potential starter for someone else after putting together a Pro Bowl campaign for the Indianapolis Colts. Minshew delivered a career-best 3,305 yards for a Colts team that made a push for the postseason. Minshew, like Mayfield, was on a one-year deal.

Elsewhere, the RB position is flooded with star power for this free agency cycle. PFN lists Saquon Barkley as the No. 1 free agent running back. Following a 962-yard, six-touchdown, and missed-postseason bid in 2023, the New York Giants’ star is likely in for a change of scenery. But he’s not the only intriguing free agent on the RB list.

Josh Jacobs, Tony Pollard, Austin Ekeler, and Derrick Henry are four other notable names in this year’s class. Jacobs, though, sounds the most open to return to his team, the Las Vegas Raiders. He even told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he trusts the system and plan new head coach Antonio Pierce is installing.

At wide receiver, Calvin Ridley is expected to draw the most interest. Ridley is coming off a 1,016-yard season with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Marquise Brown is another anticipated to garner attention. Brown caught 118 total passes for 1,283 yards and scored seven touchdowns in his two seasons with the Arizona Cardinals.

MORE: Top 100 2024 NFL Free Agent Rankings

On defense, one name who likely boosted his stock after the season is Chase Young.

After some early struggles with the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers following his midseason trade from the Washington Commanders, Young put together a strong Super Bowl 58 outing with a sack and a tackle for loss, while helping collapse pockets alongside Nick Bosa.

Even more intriguing is the upcoming safety class. Xavier McKinney is one name fans will hear about in free agency. He posted new career-highs in tackles and solo stops last season for the Giants. New York hasn’t announced a tag decision on the 24-year-old.

Kamren Curl was another who put together career tackles bests (115 total, 74 solo tackles) for the Washington Commanders. Like McKinney, he’s another emerging 24-year-old star.

Which NFL Teams Have the Most To Spend?

Dan Quinn is walking into a prominent position with the Commanders. Washington will have the NFL’s most cap space to work with.

Per Spotrac, the Commanders are the only team with more than $90 million to work with — more than $96 million to be exact. Quinn and new general manager Adam Peters — who shadowed John Lynch in helping build up the 49ers — have the luxury of being aggressive spenders.

But Quinn isn’t the only new head coach with lots of cash in cap space to work with.

Brian Callahan, with the Titans, has more than $80 million for space. In Foxborough, incoming New England Patriots head coach Jerod Mayo and the front office will have $78 million anticipated in cap space. Mayo has already declared that he plans to get the Pats to open their wallets and make roster improvements.

As for playoff teams in great financial health, the Houston Texans have the most luxury there. The AFC South champs have $70 million to work with.

Outside of the Texans, the Detroit Lions are the only other playoff representative in the top 10 for cap space. The NFC runner-ups will have more than $54 million at their disposal and — considering their recent run — will more than likely be aggressive pursuers of some high-caliber free agents this spring.

What Is Actually Disallowed During the Tampering Window?

Before the NFL tampering period was implemented in 2013, the league had a problem. In a league where every conceivable advantage matters, teams were illegally tampering with players and agents.

Allowing teams a 52-hour window to negotiate with players was critical. While no contract discussion during this period is legally binding because all of these players remain under contract until Wednesday at 4 p.m., all of the formalities are taken care of.

MORE: 2024 Free Agents by Position

Players are not allowed to speak with teams directly until Wednesday, but that only matters if a player decides to represent themselves. Players can visit the team they were previously under contract with.

For example, Javon Hargrave visited with the Philadelphia Eagles during this two-day window last season before ultimately signing with the 49ers.

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