While hunting-and-pecking an item regarding the suggestion by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones that TV cameras could soon capture the individual player interviews at the Scouting Combine, I heard Jones saying something about how he’s impressed when a looming free agent cares enough about his next contract to come to Indy while his agent is negotiating a new deal. I assumed (ass, you, me) that Jones was talking only about potential Cowboys free agents, because teams can’t talk to agents regarding pending free agents from other teams until the market opens on March 13 at 4:00 p.m.
An eagle-eyed reader clipped the video and sent it in. Though it doesn’t quite constitute Jones being caught with his hand in the cookie jar, he’s got something far closer to cookie crumbs than St. Elmo’s shrimp cocktail sauce on the corners of his mouth.
“We’re spending a lot of our time here at the Combine talking to the agents of free agents,” Jones told Rich Eisen and Mike Mayock. “By the way a lot of those NFL free agents are here in Indianapolis. Why? They just want to be close and [they're] that interested. I kind of like it when I hear that an existing NFL player that’s a free agent is into this thing enough that he’s sitting over there in a hotel room waiting to hear what his agent said when he’s talking to us about possibly . . . uh, what we’re gonna do on his contract.”
If pressed, Jones surely would say he was referring only to the dozen or so Cowboys players who will become unrestricted free agents, absent new contracts. Indeed, Jones seemed to catch himself after the word “possibly,” adding words that imply negotiations with men currently on the team instead of finishing with something like “possibly joining the Cowboys.”
But anyone who knows what really goes on in Indy knows that teams are talking to agents of players who technically are the property of other teams, and those teams technically should have the exclusive ability to negotiate with the player until March 13 at 4:00 p.m. ET. Even though everyone does it, it technically remains “cheating” until the NFL changes the rules.