On the other hand, few NFL teams ever commit clear, open violations of the letter and spirit of the tampering rules.
On Friday, Browns president Mike Holmgren said during comments to reporters that his new team has had discussions regarding the possibility of signing impending free agent defensive end Julius Peppers, according to Justin Hathaway of NFL.com.
The rule in this regard is clear: “Any public or private statement of interest, qualified or unqualified, in another club’s player to that player’s agent or representative, or to a member of the news media, is a violation of this Anti-Tampering Policy.”
Peppers remains the exclusive property of the Panthers. It doesn’t matter that he’ll be an unrestricted free agent in little more than six days. Today, he’s under contract with the Panthers.
If Hathaway’s characterization of Holmgren’s comments is accurate, it’s hard to justify anything other than a finding that the rule was broken. And if the league isn’t going to enforce the rule in situations like this, then the league should just get rid of the rule.
And give back the draft picks the league took from the 49ers as a result of the Lance Briggs tampering case.
UPDATE: Rosenthal has passed along a partial transcript of Holmgren’s remarks on the issue, justifying at least half of Friday’s per diem. “When we talk about possible
free agents, certainly Julius [Peppers] is one of the guys we talk about. But then I have to put on my other hat a little bit,
because there are some financial ramifications there. “