From a strict rules standpoint Quinlan would be considered a free agent. However there is supposed to be a gentleman`s agreement that another team would not attempt to sign Quinlan.
A few years ago the Als broke that agreement by signing Mike Giffin away from Hamilton, and I believe Hamilton later did a similar thing to B.C. - can`t recall the player, I think an o-lineman.
It would certainly make sense for teams being allowed to protect players returning to school.