According to Matt Derrick of Chiefs Digest, the Kansas City Chiefs have tendered three of their exclusive rights free agents — placekicker Harrison Butker, wide receiver Marcus Kemp and defensive tackle Justin Hamilton.
Chiefs have tendered three exclusive rights free agents, per source: K Harrison Butker, WR Marcus Kemp and DT Justin Hamilton. Told a longer term extension with Butker remains a possibility.— Matt Derrick (@mattderrick) March 13, 2019
What does this mean? Here’s the short answer: they aren’t going anywhere.
Exclusive rights free agents are typically undrafted players with two years or less in the league. This is because rookies typically spend three or four years with the team that drafted them under their rookie contracts, which makes them ineligible for the ERFA tag.
So EFRA designations are typically used by teams to essentially turn undrafted players they signed to short contracts in previous seasons into something like a drafted player: someone whose rights they control. Lawyers have a term for this: finders keepers.
Butker is a rare case because of the unusual path he took to the Chiefs. He was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in 2017, stashed on their practice squad after the team opted to stay with veteran Graham Gano, and then hijacked by the Chiefs when Cairo Santos was injured. (Note to NFL GMs: never try to stash a placekicker on your practice squad).
ERFAs get a one-year non-guaranteed contract tender at the league minimum salary. In theory, they could refuse to sign the tender and try to negotiate a better salary — something that Butker would probably deserve — but they can only negotiate with the team that tendered them. This gives them no leverage, so ERFAs tend to sign these offers right away.