So in a case like that of Joey Bosa, what happens if a player gets drafted into the NFL, but never signs with the team that drafts him? How long does the team retain the rights to him?

  • He is allowed to do anything he likes, but there will be consequences.
    – user10632
    Aug 24, 2016 at 19:38
  • Of course he can refuse to sign. And the team retains his rights, so he cannot sign elsewhere in the NFL. He could play in Canada, get a job flipping burgers, maybe become a rock star. Or, he signs soon and makes more money than anything else he is qualified to do right now.
    – Jon Custer
    Aug 24, 2016 at 20:09
  • @JonCuster, the 2nd sentence in your comment is what I was getting at, does the team retain his rights? How long? I know they can trade him still, but for how long do they retain his rights, etc?
    – New-To-IT
    Aug 24, 2016 at 20:12
  • Under the current agreement, I believe if they sit out the year they go back in the pool. Now, having not played for a year, their value, in general, will be much lower, so it is really dumb not to sign when the average time in the league (even for many high draft choices) is only a few years.
    – Jon Custer
    Aug 24, 2016 at 20:19

1 Answer 1


Keeping with your example of Bosa.

If he continues to refuse to sign with the Chargers, he cannot sign or play with any other NFL team this season. (I also think they have closed the loophole that allowed them to go play in Canada.)

The Chargers, by drafting him, have exclusivity to his 'signing rights' for the season. They can try to trade those rights to another team, but that is highly unlikely since NFL rookies are capped at what they can be paid, they are squabbling over "guaranteed" money at this point. No other team wants this headache going into their season.

IF, Bosa remains unsigned OR the rights to sign him traded by the Chargers throughout the year, he will be re-entered into the NFL draft.

Bosa won't do this because the average NFL career is just under 3 years (2.5 actually) and by sitting out and not signing, he is not getting paid, and eating up one of those years (sitting out etc. doesn't extend the avg career). YES, he is not playing, and not getting hit etc. but as they say 'There is no practice for playing in the NFL other than playing.'

  • 2
    "closed the loophole" meaning "made a deal with the CFL agreeing that they not sign NFL players who don't sign their draft tender". Characterizing a monopoly's restriction of a person's freedom of working where he chooses as closing a loophole is rather heavy handed.
    – Joe
    Aug 24, 2016 at 22:31
  • 1
    OH. I am in NO way defending it, quite the contrary.. when someone says they are 'closing a loophole' to 'fix' something, you can be rest assured it's only being close because it is in their BEST interest. The NFL is the very model of a monopoly that is not just allowed to openely run as such, but often times taxpayers willingly give them MORE money for nothing in return. i.e. The Las Vegas group is DEMANDING $750 million in taxpayer funding for any stadium they build. :(
    – pixelneer
    Aug 26, 2016 at 13:34

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