Broncos make a free-agency false start, too

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When the word came during a break in Friday’s PFT Live that running back Willis McGahee had agreed to terms with the Broncos, it didn’t occur to me that McGahee, who was officially cut Thursday by the Ravens, fell into the same boat as Vince Young and Roy Williams.

But like the Eagles and Bears, who technically jumped the gun by having contact with Young and Williams, respectively, before they appear on the official personnel notice to be published on or after 4:00 p.m. Friday, the Broncos can’t talk to McGahee until that happens.

So now the Broncos are trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube, telling Jason LaCanfora of NFL Network that a deal isn’t done — after, of course, LaCanfora confirmed our report that a deal is in place.

Nice try.

Of course, the Broncos could back out of the deal, since none of these deals are final until they are signed.  Still, the rule isn’t violated by doing a deal.  It’s by having contact.  So unless LaCanfora is now reporting, like Schefter did earlier today regarding Roy Williams, that LaCanfora was wrong when he said the deal was done and that the truth is that the two sides haven’t even talked, it’s a distinction without a difference.

As to the Broncos’ sensitivity to a form-over-substance issue, especially since the Ravens told McGahee on Tuesday that he’d be released, presumably so that he could find a new job, keep in mind that Adam Schefter of ESPN (the guy who started this whole mess last night by musing that Young may have to “clear waivers”) reported that the league has reminded the teams of the rule in this regard via e-mail this morning.

Said the e-mail from the league:  “Notwithstanding a media announcement by a club regarding the termination or waiver request of one of its players, another club cannot contact such player or his agent prior to the player appearing on a personnel notice as a termination.  A club that violates this rule is guilty of tampering and subject to discipline by the Commissioner.  A player is not officially terminated from his contract until such notification appears on the Personnel Notice.”

In other words, no one can talk to Vince Young or Roy Williams or Willis McGahee or any other veteran who was cut on Thursday until the personnel notice is released on Friday.

Clearly, though, it has happened.  Even more likely, plenty more teams than the Eagles, Bears, and Broncos have broken this rule.