For months, the NFL created the impression that free agency would essentially begin on Saturday the 9th at midnight, with negotiations launching and everything but a signed contract permitted.
On Friday, the league office fired a well-timed fastball at the temple of every team, threatening a tampering investigation if any specific offer becomes an informal agreement, or if the news of an informal agreement is leaked to an agent, a player, or the media.
It’s illogical on its surface. Like the town in Footloose where it was believed that cutting the rug would lead to cutting the shag, the NFL knows that the dance will result in consummation, but is permitting the former and forbidding the latter.
The end result, intended or otherwise, is that teams have clammed up — and they’ve scared plenty of agents into thinking that deals will be pulled or offers withdrawn if anyone blabs.
But here’s the thing. The agents hold the keys to the commodity that every team wants. If enough of them ignore the bluff, the teams won’t be able to retaliate.
The teams are being forceful, we’re told, because of the lingering fumes of the 2012 decision to strip $46 million in cap dollars from the Redskins and the Cowboys. Intended or otherwise, the teams view the Commissioner as someone who can do whatever he wants, all in the name of whatever he regards as the being in the best interests of the game.
Illogical, nonsensical rules are not in the best interests of the game.