3points I would imagine part of the process at the moment is to look at a long list of players that are out of contract and agree between all the relevant parties whether a player could be of benefit to the team.
I’d rather take MM on a free than pay £5m for Pontus Jansson. I appreciate free transfers aren’t actually free as the player gets a decent signing on fee but it’s cheaper than £5m and not a significant difference in Championship quality, imho
Probably easier to structure a deal with a free agent to suit our FFP aims.
A player not currently with a contract might be happy to take bonus payments at the end of each season ahead of an upfront signing on fee, or a decent loyalty bonus at the end of the contract period.