In recognition of the fact that tampering with looming free agents is rampant, the NFL has created a three-day window during which teams and agents can negotiate before the free-agency period begins on March 12 at 4:00 p.m. ET.
But the tampering will occur long before midnight on Saturday, March 9. As one source with direct knowledge of the situation tells PFT, it already has begun.
Specifically, teams already are contacting player agents regarding players due to become free agents. Often, the conversations are couched in hypothetical terms. Sometimes, it’s blatant.
It’ll only get worse over the next few weeks, culminating with the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, where every team and every agent will be in the same half-mile radius for multiple days.
The problem is that everyone does it. Several years ago, one team executive told PFT that his team started doing it only when it became clear that his team was at a strategic disadvantage, given the widespread nature of the practice.
The NFL rarely if ever affirmatively investigates tampering. Instead, the league typically acts only if a team is caught by another franchise with one hand pressed against the bottom of the cookie jar, with the other hand giving 345 Park Avenue the finger.
There’s a chance the NFL at some point will swoop in and nail one of the 32 teams that tampers, in order to stop the practice. Before Commissioner Roger Goodell does that, however, he should study carefully former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue’s ruling in the bounty case; specifically, the portion that talks about how to properly implement a culture change.