The Cleveland Browns were willing to part ways with veteran inside linebacker D'Qwell Jackson last week, but they still had to make a decision on their other inside linebacker, Craig Robertson. Although Robertson was not an unrestricted free agent (UFA), he was an exclusive-rights free agent (ERFA).
The ERFA label applies to players who have less than three accrued seasons in the NFL (i.e. 6 games or less on the roster or IR). In 2013, Robertson logged his second accrued season. Under the ERFA rules, that means that the Browns could offer Robertson a one-year tender worth $570,000, which is equivalent to the minimum salary for a player with two accrued seasons. Because Robertson was an ERFA, if the Browns made an offer to him, no other team would be able to sign him, period.
Sidebar: The previous sentence is part of what distinguishes Robertson from a restricted free agent (RFA). If Robertson agrees to the ERFA tender, he would be a RFA in 2015, which is when a tender would cost significantly more for Cleveland, and other teams could sign him despite a tender.
According to Tom Pelissero of USA Today Sports, the Browns have placed the ERFA tender on Robertson:
Assuming Robertson does not quit the NFL, he will be forced to sign the tender and play for the Browns in 2014. That doesn't mean his role as a starter is safe, though. Robertson was one of the more disappointing performers on defense in 2013, particularly in coverage against running backs and tight ends.