Free-agent deals aren’t done until they’re done

The horse came out of the gate with a trot on Tuesday. By Wednesday, the old gray mare was more like she used to be.

Free-agency deals in principle are being struck throughout the league, but for any players who become free agents at 4:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, no deal is done until it is done. And no deal can be done until at or after 4:00 p.m. ET on Thursday.

Until then, any agreement in principle can be scrapped, scuttled, shelved. The team can do it, the player can do it.

Two years ago, a player did it. Running back Frank Gore had an agreement in principle with the Eagles, and then he backed out of it, signing with the Colts instead.

This exception applies only to players who won’t be free agents until Thursday afternoon. For Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills, who has re-signed with the team, it’s official. Ditto for receiver Brandon Marshall, who was released by the Jets before signing with the Giants.

For everyone else — from Tony Jefferson to Calais Campbell to Danny Woodhead to Brian Hoyer to Pierre Garςon and beyond — the team or the player can get cold feet and back away, with nothing to stop them other than hard feelings.