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Teams should be careful about recruiting undrafted free agents

Cincinnati Bengals v Baltimore Ravens Getty Images

After each seven-round draft ends, the rest of the incoming players may be pursued as free agents.  It’s a competitive process, with players trying to find a roster situation that gives them the best chance of ultimately winning a job — and coaches trying to find players that will help win games, and also possibly to play a little bit of “keep away” with a rival that has an even greater need.

Every year, whispers emerge that some teams are crossing the line.  “Teams can express an interest to a player before the Draft concludes, but cannot negotiate until the Draft concludes,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello previously told PFT.

The expressions of interest are now occurring even before the draft begins, with at least one coach already sending text messages to players who may not be drafted.  According to Jason La Canfora of NFL Network, Ravens coach John Harbaugh has sent text messages to players, explaining that “the players’ names have come up in draft meetings, how the Ravens would like to find a way to bring him in, and telling the players to feel free to call him with any questions or feedback.”

La Canfora points out that the Eagles previously have sent letters to potential undrafted free agents, something that former Eagles employee and new Colts G.M. Ryan Grigson plans to do.  (Or maybe owner Jim Irsay will contact the players via Direct Message on Twitter.)

It’s unlikely that anyone would create a paper (or electronic) trail of evidence reflecting actual negotiation of a contract with a potential undrafted free agent.  But it would be naive to think negotiation doesn’t at least occur prematurely by phone, especially since the undrafted player contract is a simple combination of minimum base salaries and a signing bonus.

And especially since each team can justify it by saying everyone else does it, too.

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18 Responses to “Teams should be careful about recruiting undrafted free agents”
  1. mjl1988 says: Apr 17, 2012 2:12 PM

    Teams have already been sending out paper work for undrafted free agents/draft eligible players, I’ve personally have seen 2 pictures of letters sent from the Eagles and Colts.

  2. truthfactory says: Apr 17, 2012 2:13 PM

    “…something that former Eagles employee and new Colts G.M. Ryan Grigson plans to do. (Or maybe owner Jim Irsay will contact the players via Direct Message on Twitter.)”
    —————–

    I’m waiting for the day that you reference Jim Irsay and not take a shot at his twitter account… Especially since its generated dozens of articles for you to post profit from over the past 6 months.

  3. fordwuzanazi says: Apr 17, 2012 2:20 PM

    “And especially since each team can justify it by saying everyone else does it, too.”

    How did this defense work out for the Saints? Seems to me that the NFL will find one scapegoat these days and hammer them as an example for breaking the rules.

  4. largent80 says: Apr 17, 2012 2:29 PM

    Might be worthwhile to look at which teams have the most cap room heading into the draft. Teams with more cap room can offer better signing bonuses, which, for some of these guys, might be the only paychecks they ever get from an NFL team.

  5. oldcracker says: Apr 17, 2012 2:49 PM

    Hell, I wish my Browns would do something!

  6. awhite46 says: Apr 17, 2012 2:53 PM

    You are exaggerating the extent to which the actual negotiation is critical to bringing a player in. The most important thing is for the player to want to come to the team calling. These measures accomplish that.

  7. pleasantsurpriselefty says: Apr 17, 2012 3:07 PM

    “Everyone else does it.” Sounds like my 10 year old. I certainly don’t see anything wrong with sending out a letter to some guy you know isn’t going to be drafted saying, “save a dance for us” when the lights go down.

    Of course if Ayatollah Goodell thinks it’s no good then, my bad, for thinking it is OK.

  8. thraiderskin says: Apr 17, 2012 3:32 PM

    Shut up Truth, if Irsay wasn’t such a d-bag he wouldn’t get made fun of. If he keeps blabbing(typing) he keeps getting made fun of. Its not that he speaks, it is what he says. so Shush!

  9. time2speakup says: Apr 17, 2012 3:43 PM

    Come on already. This is business. This is common sense. This is not hurting anyone or taking unfair advantage that I can see. And, it will do a lot for each kid contacted to at least know somebody out there sees his worth. Hope does wonders for the ol’ psyche.

  10. skylark70455 says: Apr 17, 2012 3:45 PM

    pleasantsurpriselefty says: “Everyone else does it.” Sounds like my 10 year old.

    Or a Patriots fan.

  11. hawkforlife says: Apr 17, 2012 3:53 PM

    Shouldn’t you guys get these headlines at least close. It’s not “Teams should be careful about recruiting undrafted free agents” it’s Teams should be careful about how they recruit undrafted free agents. Come on, show a little effort.

  12. conormacleod says: Apr 17, 2012 4:03 PM

    I don’t think this is a big deal. For starters, potential free agent players cannot refuse to be drafted in the 7th round because they think another, more desirable team, will sign them to a free agent contract. Hell, let them work out a contract BEFORE the draft, because it would all be contingent on that player not being drafted by a team anyway.

  13. chrisritch93 says: Apr 17, 2012 4:07 PM

    I’m sure Payton is already on it !!

  14. granadafan says: Apr 17, 2012 5:06 PM

    The Bengals were surpsised and upset at potential undrafted free agents who hung up when the Bungles called collect.

  15. j0esixpack says: Apr 17, 2012 5:44 PM

    While I appreciate Florio giving lip service to watching out for the best interests of undrafted rookies, let’s be serious.

    The NFL might be a chess match all year round but I find it hard to believe that any team is worried about an UDFA going to a division rival rather than them.

    If they were that hot a commodity they’d be drafted in the first place.

    As it stands UDFAs ultimately may be better off than those drafted in the late rounds as THEY get to decide which team to go to with careful consideration of where they have the best chance of making the roster.

  16. thetechnocrat says: Apr 17, 2012 6:13 PM

    Do a little research on the Ravens first next time. While other teams have been rumored to give signing bonus money over a 7th rounder for some, the Ravens camp invite and bonus has been the same for years. $5000 and a plane ticket. Their main selling point is that many make the team and have a chance to contribute or get good tape out there before the season even starts. Some like Priest Holmes, Jeff Saturday, etc… make it big time.

  17. Deb says: Apr 17, 2012 6:49 PM

    Not seeing the problem here. No matter what discussions they’ve had with any team, these kids have to go through the draft process. So even if they did negotiate an arrangement, it would be moot if they were drafted by another club. No team is going to invest time and effort in serious negotiations that could be negated by the draft. Nor would the Ravens or any other team commit themselves to players before seeing how their draft picks play out.

    So basically, these teams are just scouting the talent that may be available after the draft and expressing interest. And you’ve said that’s well within the rules.

  18. vtmem says: Apr 17, 2012 9:28 PM

    Deb,

    You make sense. This is really a scouting process.

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