League needs to adopt a waiting period for signing undrafted free agents

Getty Images

The moment the draft ends (actually, sooner), NFL teams begin swarming over the guys who aren’t drafted.

It’s chaos. It’s a mess. And it results in teams putting undue pressure on undrafted players to make a decision before they have a chance to fully assess the situation and select the right team with which to start their careers.

Teams want to know immediately whether the player will sign what for him is a three-year commitment, and what for the team can be torn up on any given day, including that same day.

One team extended the same offer to multiple players with a “first-come, first-served” limitation. So if a player decided to accept the offer but he didn’t accept it before someone else did, the offer was gone.

Another team got snippy with an agent on Sunday morning regarding a player who opted not to pounce on an act-now offer.

“Never heard back from you,” the team said via text message to an agent who requested anonymity. “Your guy missed a big opportunity and you wasted a lot of our time.”

Time is the key word here. The NFL should impose a waiting period before players can sign as undrafted free agents, so that the players can assess all their options and make good decisions.

Of course, the fact that the NFL moved the draft to May makes it even more important for teams to get their undrafted free agents under contract and in the building for offseason workouts. But that’s all the more reason to force teams to tap the brakes so that men who have to make an important decision regarding their NFL futures will have a chance to consider all available offers and to select the best place to embark on a journey that could end up being very short if the wrong team is picked.

30 responses to “League needs to adopt a waiting period for signing undrafted free agents

  1. I hope the players union and the agents push for a change. There should be a 3 day waiting period before signings can become official. That would give players a chance to look at all offers– give them a chance to see not just the $ but the rosters of the teams they would try to make.

  2. The same exact thing will happen, they will just do it under wraps. If it is that big of a deal, extend the draft to 10 rounds.

  3. I saw one good idea that they actually could do a post draft show focus on the undrafted. I bet it would still get viewers. With the twitter it is cool seeing who got signed.

  4. The agent wants to remain anonymous but leaks exactly what the team said to him. No way will the team that said it put two and two together and know the agent that leaked it..

  5. Wasted a lot of their time”? These are boiler plate contracts. Just add the player’s name & print out. Sounds like a GM trying to intimidate an agent who doesn’t have a star player on said agent’s roster… yet.

  6. It oughta be like college National Signing Day. The undrafted free agents receive all offers from the NFL teams and after a set time limit, decide which one they will accept. 48 hrs for teams to get an offer in, 24 hrs for a player to choose which one he’ll accept. 4 days after the draft, all UDFAs make their announcement official. Anything after those 3-4 days, teams can offer (but can’t rescind w/in 24 hours) a contract to whomever they choose and the kid has a day to accept or both sides move on. Doesn’t seem hard.

  7. The league needs to not schedule the draft for Mother’s Day weekend.

    Seriously, the owners should hire somebody to watch out for things like this and advise against them, somebody to tell the owners when one of their ideas might be a really bad for the league or sport. Maybe they could call that person the “commissioner” or something.

  8. Not sure what difference a waiting period would make. It would just move the day to a different chaotic day.

  9. All the more reason why they have to move back the draft to the way it was last year, maybe even sooner. Undrafted free agents and their agents need more time to evaluate the team they would be going to. Also, off season programs are shortened tremendously due to draft being this late. As a result, coaches have less time to evaluate rookies.

    NFL dropped the ball on this one! Move the draft back to April!

  10. Agree that it should not be on Mothers Day Weekend because agents and players travel to see their Mothers. With that said, how hard is it to pre-analyze every team’s roster in the NFL, (you have 14 weeks) and keep track of a 7 round draft? If you’re an agent – that is your job…

  11. Put the draft back to 15 Rounds as it was years ago.

    Legit Agents should keep up with the draft, keeping a running tally of the depth charts of the teams and know where their clients have a shot.
    What else do they do for their clients ?

    The truth of the matter is that most of these players are cannon fodder for camp. The cream will rise to the top in camp and preseason games.
    Players like Pro Bowler Jason Peters, Fred Jackson and other UDFA will get their opportunity to show what they have and will make a roster or practice squad some place.

  12. Well if they had another league to fill roster spots then we could have a lot more players drafted.

    And it would be nice to find out what team thinks it’s necessary to explain that a lost opportunity also happens to be a big one. Gee thanks for that groundbreaking insight. Good luck on winning the Super Bowl right after you accomplish your conquest for personal vengeance. I don’t know what team you are, but I know I want to bet against you; I know how to spot the losers.

  13. You guys are just full of great ideas today, aren’t you? The system works. Why screw with it? These undrafted guys are getting a lot more money than they could any other way. Almost all of their agents have been in contact with the teams for weeks if not months. What is to be gained by making another stupid rule?

  14. Can’t enforce it. Maybe you could stop the kid from actual signing, but the team could ask for a commitment or move on. They’re not that valuable. It’s the same as trying to stop teams from talking to UFAs early, not much the league can do. Teams have all the leverage over kids just trying to live their dream and get a foothold in the NFL.

  15. These are undrafted kids. The contracts are going to be for the minimum if they make a team. Who cares if it’s chaotic.

    The agents know what teams give their kids the best chance or they should. Teams like the Patriots (and Steelers) have undrafted guys make the team put of camp (Kendral Thompkins) and off the practice squad all the time.

  16. They should wait a day and turn it into a live auction… That might be fun and good for ratings, and it would be fast enough to get done in a day or two. Also there aren’t teams or players that unfairly miss out because of the chaos and poor representation, or missed deadlines.

  17. The NFL has been successful for how long? They have made enough changes…and you are proposing more?

    Draft pick contracts, UDFA signings…stop trying to play commissioner and report.

    If anything, add another round…and stop giving more picks to good teams because they lost free agents, that’s their fault…why are they rewarded for failing to sign them?

  18. So what your saying is give these kids more rights over where they get to start their careers, then the ones drafted…. Then why even have a draft? Make them all UDFA’s. I think these player’s should just be happy their getting a call.

  19. Lots of ideas on here, I vote for Secretbonus1’s proposal to make it a live auction.

    Funny, the “leaked” text defined the relationship between GMs and agents. Most GMs have “bully” as a trait and agents are “cunning.” Hard to say what the context of the entire conversation is, but it makes the GM look really bad. I’m sure that info will come out tomorrow.

  20. This is easy solve. Just extend the Draft by 4-6 rounds. Every Team in Draft order and no Conp. Picks and no trading. You have 3 minutes. That is what would be fair. All players chosen get the same fixed money. If and when they make the Team a Contract can be redone like the Primary Draft Players. Believe me, these guys are not looking for big money, just a phone call and a chance to continue what is now a long shot dream.

  21. Any changes to the rules should solve a real problem and address it as specifically as possible. I think I can do better than this proposed waiting period suggestion, but first we should try to agree on what the problem is that we want to address.

    1. Undrafted free agents want to go the team that gives them the best opportunity, but they might not know which team will offer them the best opportunity. I don’t think this is a solvable problem. Players in the draft pool already get to work out for teams – combine, pro-days, private work outs – meet some team representatives and get some idea of how interested the team is. They and their agents can also assess how competitive the situation is for that player’s position group at each team, and reassess as the draft progresses. They already have some information, but they’ll never have perfect information.
    2. As Florio pointed out in a previous article, teams can only give out a total of $80,362 in signing bonuses to the undrafted free agents that they want to sign. This is the only money that a undrafted free agent can be sure of getting. This limit is also the biggest reason that teams can’t offer to everyone they want at the same time and give each player plenty of time to think it over.
    3. Undrafted free agents are very likely to be cut before the season starts even if they choose their very best opportunity. They have no power, and they get paid a pittance. I think this problem can be addressed very simply: Remove the restriction on total signing bonuses, and require any offers that a team makes to be binding for a reasonable period of time, for example 24 hours. They still won’t have much power, but teams will be able to pay them a bit more and treat them more fairly.

  22. Draft ends Saturday night. They should have until Tuesday 6pm ET. That’s 3 days. Plenty of time to get whoever signed and report to team by Wednesday night.

  23. Dummies! Agents should know who is best fit for their client is and rank the teams in order of preference so when they call, they can give the team an answer.

    Having experienced this myself, teams are calling agents after the 3rd round trying to “cut a deal” if their player doesn’t get drafted. SO – in other words AGENTS have all the teams who are interested in their client by the time Mr. Irrelevant gets selected. The the next step – agents try to play the game with the teams to get more signing bonus money for the player by pitting team against team. Some teams don’t play that and just say – pick us or not right now, here’s what we’re offering. So the bottom line is if you got a good agent, he has the teams pre-ranked (before the draft) as to who would be a good fit for you, and then if he does his job well by following the draft as it goes, then he can make adjustments accordingly. Any team that says “pick us now or we will move on to the next guy” does not have a genuine interest in that free agent. They are just looking for a camp body. However, if that team is ranked highly by the agent as a “fit” for their client, he should accept their offer immediately or the agent does a disservice to their client.

    The system works as it is, leave it that way.

  24. This is a non-problem. When someone offers me a job in the real world, do I say “well, I want to take some time to consider other offers?” It’s never happened; it’s either a yes or a no. If these guys don’t want to accept an offer, they can always say no, just like us civilians. Why should teams be frozen on what they can do because of being locked in to some irrevocable offer?

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!