In professional sports, a free agent is a player who is eligible to sign with any club or franchise, i.e. not under contract to any specific team. The term is also used in reference to a player who is under contract at present, but who is allowed to solicit contract offers from other teams. In some circumstances, the free agent's options are limited by league rules.
The term came into wider use after sports leagues stopped using a "reserve clause", which provided a repetitive option for the club to renew the contract for one or more years but did not allow the player to terminate it.
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