Free agency got an overhaul in Madden 17. You still offer contracts the same as you always did, but now every contract you offer gets a point total assigned to it. The best possible contract you can give is worth 212 points. You get points for each of the following categories:
- Salary (max 93 points)
- Bonus (max 93 points)
- Length (max 15 points)
- Prestige (max 11 points)
The standard asking price for a free agent is about 80 points (31 for salary + 31 for bonus + 15 for length + whatever your team prestige is). You'll notice that the point total doesn't just correlate directly to total dollars. It's all based on the initial asking price.
As you can see above, the base offer for elite players and crappy players (sorry, Chris Swain's mom) can vary by millions of dollars, but the point total remains the same. The points are relative to each individual player's offer and his asking price.
Here is the really terrible, truly awful thing about the point system in Madden 17: You can see exactly how many points each team's offer is worth for every player. This is a problem because the player will accept the contract worth the most points every single time. The salary doesn't matter. The bonus doesn't matter. The length of the deal doesn't matter. The team offering doesn't matter. If you make your contract 1 point better than the best offer, you win.
This takes all of the thrill out of the single-player CFM experience since you can simply outbid the computer for any player you want right before you advance. And it totally ruins the multiplayer CFM experience. The person in charge of advancing can snipe any player they want since they can adjust the player's offer as often as needed until they've outbid the other team. (Idea: Maybe only offer one offer per round of free agency.)
But, as annoying as this may be, this is the system we have to live with for this Madden. So here is a guide to help you figure out how to maximize your points for all of the old players who have regressed miserably that are available in free agency.
You can get anywhere from 0 to 93 points for your bonus offer. If you offer what they ask, you start at 31 points. In order to get the max of 93 points, simply triple your offer (hint: 31 times 3 = 93). So if the player asks for a $2 million bonus, offer him $6 million to get 93 points. Pretty simple math here.
Hiccup number 1: If a player initially asks for $6.7 million or more, you won't be able to get 93 points for your bonus offer since the max bonus you can offer is $20 million (and 6.7 times 3 = 20.1. Just showing my work in case my third grade math teacher is reading this).
Hiccup number 2: If a player doesn't want a bonus in their asking offer, there's nothing you can do to get more than 31 points. After all, 0 times 3 = 0. So if he doesn't ask for a bonus, don't give him one. It doesn't increase your chances of signing him.
However, knowing the tripling rule will help you get a bunch of points for players who ask for small bonuses. If a player only asks for $100k bonus, you can offer him $300k and get the full 93 points.
It's the same deal for salary as it is for bonus: You get 0 to 93 points, and to get the maximum points, you just triple their requested salary.
The same hiccup 1 applies here. You can't get the 93 maximum points for great players since they typically ask for large sums of money that the game just won't let you triple. So don't be freaked out if you see Cam Newton has an offer worth 125 points while Ryan Fitzpatrick has an offer worth 180 points. That doesn't mean Fitz has a more expensive overall deal. It just means someone offered him more relative to his respective initial request. It also means the Jets are stupid.
There is a second hiccup that applies to the salary: You have to raise the bonus at about the same rate that you raise the salary if you want to increase your salary point total. The game is kind of smart in this way. You can't just offer a guy a ton of salary with no guaranteed cash and expect to get a bunch of points for it. Here's an example of this in action on a 4-year contract offer, where the percent column shows the bonus relative to the salary:
You can see here the player has a salary worth 93 points, but you don't get the full credit for the offer until the bonus is around 1/3 of the salary. That's pretty consistent for the players who can have maxed out salary points. If the player is elite and already asking for a high enough salary that it can't be tripled to get the full 93 points, then the bonus will have to be closer to 50-60% of the salary in order to get max points.
You get up to 15 points based on the years you offer in your deal. You can get the max by either offering what they ask for or increasing the length. You start to lose points as you remove years from your offer. The points you get for length are totally independent from the amount of salary or bonus you offer. If the player asks for a 3-year deal, you can offer 3 years, $3 million or 3 years, $30 million and still get the full 15 points for length.
Here is a chart that shows how many points you'll get for each year total based on their initial contract request. Note: Nobody ever asks for 7-year deals.
So as you can see above, if someone asks for a 6-year contract, you'll get the max points by offering 6 or 7 years, then it starts to drop off until you get just a single point for offering a 1-year deal. If a player asks for a 1-year deal, you don't benefit at all (points wise) by offering them a longer deal.
Your team's Prestige points are based on your record and your coach packages. If you have the Free Agency Influence coach package for a position, that will increase your prestige by 50% at that position. So if your prestige is normally 6 but you own the QB FA Influence coach package, your prestige will be 9 for quarterbacks (but still 6 for everyone else).
Most of the time, bidding doesn't go all the way to the maximum possible points, so prestige isn't usually a factor. Most of the difference in points in a player's offer will come from the salary and bonus.
I've always tried to offer as little bonus as possible as that makes it easier to cut or trade players down the road if you need to. With the way the point system interlocks salary and bonus now, that's not really possible. Especially if you are bidding against other humans in a full CFM league, you are going to have to give out some guaranteed cash to get your point total up.
Here are some tips for your next round of free agency:
- If a player has no other bids, offer far below his asking price. He will eventually accept your offer even if it's garbage. (A good example of this: I offered Antonio Cromartie a 7-year deal for the veteran minimum, and he accepted. Since contracts are back loaded, his salary for the first year of the deal was only $210k.)
- Don't offer more years than you have to. It doesn't give you any extra points to offer above what they ask for. However, if you aren't giving out much guaranteed cash, locking a player in for longer is always a good idea.
- Don't offer more years than you have to. Again, it doesn't give you any extra points to offer a deal longer than what they ask.
- If you are playing CFM by yourself, don't buy the FA Influence coach package. It's easy enough to just see what the CPU is biding and beat them by a single point. If you are in a competitive CFM full of aggressive human users, it might be worth it (unless you are the commish, in which case you can snipe their bid right before you advance -- assuming you have no morals).
Bonus Content: Abusing the Point System
Basing everything off of points is fine in theory (even though it makes no sense to let other users see the point totals), but when the points follow an exact formula, it's easy to abuse. Let's take the example of Matt Barkley.
Matt is a free agent this offseason. Which contract do you think Matt would prefer to sign?
- a 1-year deal worth $1.96 million ($1.2 million in salary and $750k guaranteed) or
- a 7-year deal worth $143 million ($140 million in salary and $3 million guaranteed)
I know Barkley isn't exactly known for his great decision-making skills, but this one should be a no-brainer: More years, a much (much much) bigger salary, and four times as much guaranteed cash. Obviously Matt is taking the second offer, right?
You could not be more wrong. Because Matt only initially asked for $250k in bonus, the $750k in guaranteed cash in a single year from the first offer was triple the asking price, giving it 93 points for the bonus. The second offer got just 53 points for the bonus since it was only $430k per season (even though it was more total bonus overall). The huge bump in salary wasn't enough to make up for the point difference (since, as we learned above, you can't get max points for salary if you offer a low bonus).
Here are the point breakdowns for each offer:
Hopefully for Madden 18, EA tweaks the formula they use for determining how free agents decide, even if it just means adding a dice roll mechanic like they use for jump balls and fumbles and tipped passes and everything else on the gameplay side. If nothing else, they need to hide the points during the bidding process to give a little challenge to single-user CFMs and to prevent bid sniping in full leagues.