On the surface, the NFL’s proposed shift in the offseason calendar makes sense. To fully capitalize on the ever-intensifying interest in free agency and the draft, the NFL would stagger the major events, with the Scouting Combine in early March, free agency in early April, and the draft in May (presumably during the all-important “sweeps” period).
According to Albert Breer of NFL Network, the league and the NFLPA are “continuing dialogue” regarding the potential shift. The players are hesitant because it delays the opportunities of players to find new teams — and to get the bonus checks that often go along with them.
But there’s another potential problem with delaying the start of free agency. With the annual league meetings occurring during the second half of March, the teams would have one last concentrated opportunity to compare notes on the desire market at the various positions.
Collusion can occur in many forms. Generally speaking, any collaboration among NFL franchises regarding player compensation is prohibited. This year, there has been plenty of suspicion that teams knew what other teams would be willing to pay to free agents. Delaying the start of free agency until after all owners, General Managers, and coaches are in the same place for several days will give them even more time to ensure that general parameters are in place for the money to be paid at the various positions.
Theoretically, of course.
Still, not delaying the start of free agency will block the teams from having a final opportunity to get their ducks, and dollars, in a row.