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NFL sends out annual legal tampering memo

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Several years ago, the NFL acknowledged the rampant pre-free agency tampering by creating a window for permissible pre-free agency tampering. Meanwhile, impermissible pre-free agency tampering continues, largely unchecked.

Each year, the league office sends out a memo containing a list of do’s and don’ts. The 2017 memo was distributed to all teams today.

The permissible pre-free agency tampering window opens at 12:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, and it lasts until “3:59:59 p.m.” ET on Thursday. During that window, teams may enter into contract negotiations with agents representing the players who will become free agents at 4:00 p.m. ET on Thursday.

“During the two-day negotiating period, all clubs may negotiate all aspects of an NFL Player Contract with the certified agent of any prospective UFA,” the memo explains. “However, a new club may not execute an NFL Player Contract with a prospective UFA until 4:00 p.m., New York time, on March 9, when the player’s 2016 contract expires.”

Prohibited actions during the legal tampering window include: (1) executing a player contract; (2) executing an agreement in principle “or similar document”; (3) announcing that an agreement in principle or similar agreement has been reached; (4) violating the CBA provisions that relate to undisclosed contractual terms. (That last one presumably applies even after free agency officially begins.)

Reading between the lines, a verbal agreement in principle is permitted, as long as it’s not announced. Inevitably, agreements in principle will be reached and leaked. Still, no deal is done until it is signed, and no deal can be signed until after 4:00 p.m. ET on Thursday.

Teams also cannot make travel arrangements for player visits, and there can be no communication with the player — even if he represents himself. This means that the rest of the tackle market will get even more of a head start on Russell Okung, especially after the illegal tampering that happened at the Scouting Combine. (At one point, there was a belief that Okung would show up in Indianapolis with the goal of negotiating a contract.)

Even though free agency doesn’t really open until Thursday, it actually opens on Tuesday. And plenty of unofficial deals will be done, quickly.

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18 Responses to “NFL sends out annual legal tampering memo”
  1. truninerfan49 says: Mar 6, 2017 1:14 PM

    What a stupid rule. If a player is representing himself, then he should be able to talk to teams

  2. brettfavreisapacker4ever says: Mar 6, 2017 1:20 PM

    This anti tampering rule from NFL Headquarters is laughable. Just do away with it already. It’s abused EVERY YEAR.
    Just make March 1st as the opening of Free Agency and be done with it. If any player or team initiates early contact they lose their next 1st round draft pick and / or fined $10 million.

  3. kissbillsrings says: Mar 6, 2017 1:22 PM

    Memo reads: all teams will be heavily penalized for any form of perceived tampering EXCEPT the NY Jets…. They need all the help they can get!!! ROGER THAT!!!

  4. jjackwagon says: Mar 6, 2017 1:23 PM

    legal tampering…oxymoron.

    If it’s legal to talk to the player…it’s not tampering.

    It’s like business ethics. No such thing. You either have ethics or you don’t. If you do, you will use them in your business.

  5. alltee says: Mar 6, 2017 1:28 PM

    dear teams, please be warned: if you are caught tampering or breaking any of these rules, you will be subject to fines ranging from the NFL head office doing absolutely nothing to major fines and suspension of many drafts picks.

    even though we have a rule book and definitions for each fine, we the NFL have the right to completely ignore the rule book and do as we please.

    the NFL must ignore the set out rules for fines in order ignore rule breakers from teams that either roger goodell worked for or for teams that will still massage roger goodell’s 5 year old ego.

    we thank you for your cooperation, and warn you again to not break any of our clear cut rules, as always this message can be ignored by the steeler, jets, giants, faclons, seahawks.

  6. The Dangerous Kitchen says: Mar 6, 2017 1:43 PM

    Desean Jackson is already commenting about a big deal he apparently already knows about this morning even before legal tampering starts tomorrow. He says it will be announced Thursday. So come Thursday we find out who broke the rules. (They can always say they didnt know because the memo didnt come out until now, depending who they are that might fly)

  7. cobrala2 says: Mar 6, 2017 1:49 PM

    Wait, was the memo for the front offices or for Mike’s peace of mind? 😉

  8. gbpackfan3 says: Mar 6, 2017 1:49 PM

    This is should such a joke. Basically like 85% of the news stories we’ve been seeing the past week could qualify as “illegal tampering.” The combine is like 70% scouting, 30% tampering lol. Lets just get to Thursday already. I’m ready for some actual news

  9. vbe2 says: Mar 6, 2017 1:55 PM

    If they’re allowed to do it, it’s not ‘tampering’.

  10. Hitdog18 says: Mar 6, 2017 2:27 PM

    We’re looking at you, woody johnson

  11. tedmurph says: Mar 6, 2017 3:12 PM

    Careful, the NFL treats these memos as if they were rule changes. Which they can’t do unilaterally by memo. That’s what really happened in ‘spygate’.

  12. droppedinagreasefire says: Mar 6, 2017 3:59 PM

    The Pats sent out Christmas cards to the college recruits over 3 months ago.

  13. nhpats says: Mar 6, 2017 4:03 PM

    Did they publish a team-by-team list and the associated penalties if each team is caught tampering?

  14. yourunclerico says: Mar 6, 2017 4:32 PM

    donkeys and pats reply with their annual – were just going to cheat anyway – response.
    afterall, both teams are allowed to keep their trophies when they should be forced to vacate their titles.
    and on the back end, the talking heads sugarcoat it all and their fanbase goes into overtime justifying and defending the cheats.
    follow the money.

  15. dangguy says: Mar 6, 2017 5:02 PM

    Roger mailed out 29 letters, to all teams except the chosen few. The NY Giants, The Jets and the Pittsburgh Steelers, Roger figured why waste those 3 postage stamps.

  16. a1b24312 says: Mar 6, 2017 6:10 PM


  17. factpurveyor says: Mar 6, 2017 6:23 PM

    The Jets should not get a letter and should be prohibited from talking to any players….as a penalty for the illegal tampering they did with Revis while he was a Patriot.

  18. factpurveyor says: Mar 6, 2017 6:28 PM

    Good……… the NFL can get busy typing the press release containing the PSI data that was collected during the 2015 season.

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