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Meaningless tampering window opens Saturday

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Last March, the NFL acknowledged years of pre-free agency tampering by opening for the first time a three-day window allowing teams to negotiate with agents of impending free agents.

Then, just before the window opened, the NFL sent a memo that scared everyone straight.

The rule said this:  “Beginning at 12:00 midnight ET on Saturday, March 9 (i.e., after 11:59:59 p.m. ET, on Friday, March 8) and ending at 3:59:59 p.m. ET on Tuesday, March 12, clubs are permitted to contact, and enter into negotiations with, the certified agents of players who will become Unrestricted Free Agents upon the expiration of their 2012 Player Contracts at 4:00 p.m. ET on March 12.  However, a contract cannot be executed with a new club until 4:00 p.m. ET on March 12.”  (Emphasis added.)

The memo said this:  “[P]rior to the beginning of the new League Year it is impermissible for a club to enter into an agreement of any kind, express or implied, oral or written, or promises, undertakings, representations, commitments, inducements, assurances of intent or understandings of any kind concerning the terms or conditions of employment offered to, or to be offered to, any prospective Unrestricted Free Agent for inclusion in a Player Contract after the start of the new League Year.”  (Emphasis added.)

The two messages were inconsistent.  The rule said negotiations may happen but that a contract “cannot be executed” before the official start of free agency.  But the memo severely limited the negotiations that may occur.  It was impossible to negotiate anything if the possibility of actually negotiating to a consensus was prohibited.

This year, the rule is the same, with a 12-hour delay in the launch of the tampering window:  “Beginning at 12:00 noon ET on Saturday, March 8 and ending at 3:59:59 p.m. ET on Tuesday, March 11, clubs are permitted to contact, and enter into negotiations with, the certified agents of players who will become Unrestricted Free Agents upon the expiration of their 2013 player contracts at 4:00 p.m. ET on March 11.  However, a contract cannot be executed with a new club until 4:00 p.m. ET on March 11.”  (Emphasis added.)

This year, we’ve yet to determine whether the NFL supplemented the rules, published to the media on Thursday, with a memo scaring the teams away from negotiating at all for fear of inadvertently “enter[ing] into an agreement of any kind, express or implied, oral or written, or promises, undertakings, representations, commitments, inducements, assurances of intent or understandings of any kind concerning the terms or conditions of employment offered to, or to be offered to, any prospective Unrestricted Free Agent.”

Presumably, the NFL was hoping to avoid a flurry of reports from the three-day tampering period that a given player had agreed to terms with a given team, like the flurry of reports that arose when the NFL utilized a brief negotiating period after the end of the lockout in 2011.  Some think the league hopes to eventually craft — and market — a “signing day” for the NFL, where players announce one after another their decisions regarding their next NFL contract, like high-school players picking a college.  Possibly by picking up the putting on their heads the latest offerings of the league’s official cap provider.

Regardless of whether this year’s legal tampering window leads to real negotiations resulting in actual agreements that will become binding contracts on Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. ET, the reality is that the negotiations have been occurring for weeks.  Opening a three-day window for permissible (yet meaningless) tampering didn’t stop the more meaningful tampering that occurs before the three-day window opens.

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21 Responses to “Meaningless tampering window opens Saturday”
  1. bopac says: Mar 8, 2014 9:07 AM

    This is where the Eagles will insert their dominance for years to come. First stop, the Super Bowl, then we take over the world!!!

  2. tdubdizzle says: Mar 8, 2014 9:10 AM

    What happens to all the money the citizens of a city put into their Football team when owners call for public funding? The owners are overpaid, the players are overpaid and the citizens are overcharged. There’s a problem with this.

  3. clashpoint says: Mar 8, 2014 9:22 AM

    “….but it was always during the meaningless tampering window!”

    - Darren Sharper’s lawyer

  4. ✦ Pittsburgh is the City of Champions ✦ says: Mar 8, 2014 9:31 AM

    We win Super Bowls. We strongly suggest others try it.

  5. PeterKingLovesCoqAVin says: Mar 8, 2014 9:32 AM

    Team: “Let’s see if we can negotiate to within $1000 difference of what you want and what we want to spend.”

    Agent: “OK.”

    [team and agent negotiate contract to within $1000]

    Team: “Let’s talk again on Tuesday.”

    Agent: “OK.”

    [agent calls other 31 teams]

    Is this not how this process is intended to work?

  6. ✦ Pittsburgh is the City of Champions ✦ says: Mar 8, 2014 9:33 AM

    Winning a Super Bowl is the greatest team achievement in all of sports. Winning six of them is legendary.

  7. upperdecker19 says: Mar 8, 2014 9:34 AM

    Elvis Dumervil’s agent is still confused

  8. thevikesarebest says: Mar 8, 2014 9:47 AM

    This is where agents start canceling meetings with the Turdbay packers.who wants to go to that backwoods place.they just invision the Clown music and automatically choose to go elsewhere.

  9. citiciti says: Mar 8, 2014 9:47 AM

    I love football…but the NFL owners and Exc’s are a bunch of $%^HOLES

  10. peytonsneck18 says: Mar 8, 2014 9:47 AM

    nice time of the year to hear with free agents yr team will sign soon, wished madden would update their rosters with the new players on yr team

  11. justintuckrule says: Mar 8, 2014 9:48 AM

    Your explanation proves that this is just another one of the NFL’s bumbling non-sensible rules.

  12. azjam says: Mar 8, 2014 9:54 AM

    I guess this allows agents to see how much interest there is out there from other teams in their client. If little interest they may then take contract that has been offered to them from their current team.

  13. falcons999 says: Mar 8, 2014 10:11 AM

    “Elvis Dumervil’s agent is still confused”

    Have him fax me and I’ll explain it to him.

  14. doall24 says: Mar 8, 2014 10:28 AM

    the vikings still stink, SKOL

  15. deflateddome says: Mar 8, 2014 10:31 AM

    Great news…Ted Thompson has offered BJ Raji a double wide in the Heavenly Haven trailer park. The 4 million was reminded…

  16. patriots123456 says: Mar 8, 2014 10:51 AM

    The Broncos can’t even run a fax machine, so this info must be really confusing to them…

  17. ariani1985 says: Mar 8, 2014 10:57 AM

    Even if you tamper, green bay can only lose in the first round of the playoffs once right?

  18. tvjules says: Mar 8, 2014 11:23 AM

    I love how the NFL has created relevance and press for itself for 12 straight months of the year. It’s brilliant marketing, actually.

  19. lukedunphysscienceproject says: Mar 8, 2014 11:38 AM

    You’re the only person who cares about tampering.

    Even the league only pretends to care.

  20. doall24 says: Mar 8, 2014 12:21 PM

    what does a wrecked car and the minnesota vikings have in common?

    neither has a title!!!!! SKOL

  21. jacksprat57 says: Mar 10, 2014 10:46 AM

    Mike Florio, you totally missed the purpose of this latest statement. All that it is, is a built-in defense that pretty much makes moot prospective tort claims citing anything which occurred during the tampering window. It makes it crystal clear, should a court ever need convincing, that all parties should have known not to rely on ANYTHING that takes place. So, you think that your client got screwed because he relied on something which you did or said at that time? Too bad; more fool you. As things NOW stand, the only thing which a team (or agent) risks is the reputation of its people. It needed to be said, if only to calm their lawyers’ collective nerves.

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