Recent events regarding bounty systems and cartoonish efforts by assistant coaches to persuade players to try to injure their opponents have made more mundane violations by NFL team far less meaningful. But that doesn’t mean evidence of teams disregarding the rules should be ignored.
Over the weekend, a YouTube video from Mr. Irrelevant revealed that he had been negotiating with the Chargers before the draft ended. That’s a clear violation of the rules regarding the contact that teams may have with players before the draft has ended.
An item in the Saline (Mich.) Patch provides more evidence that teams simply aren’t refraining from negotiating while the draft is still ongoing. Agent D.S. Ping admits to the Patch that the Vikings offered a $10,000 signing bonus to one of Ping’s clients before the draft had ended.
The NFL’s options are fairly simple — enforce the rule as written or change it. Having a rule on the books that is routinely ignored without consequence makes the NFL come off as far less buttoned up than it aspires to be, and it makes those situations in which the league takes action seem more arbitrary and less fair.
It’s unclear why negotiation isn’t permitted. Perhaps the NFL doesn’t want teams to be squeezed into using draft picks on players who are poised to sign elsewhere as free agents. Regardless, negotiation before the end of the draft isn’t permitted and negotiation before the end of the draft routinely is happening and it just seems foolish for the NFL to allow that situation to continue.