DeVito courtship suggests violation of pre-free agency rules

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Last Saturday, the NFL opened for the first time in a non-lockout year a three-day window for negotiating with agents for upcoming free agents.  Given that the league used a similar period after the 2011 lockout, it was widely assumed that agreements in principle could be reached during this period, as long as the contracts weren’t formally executed until after the launch of free agency.

Then, on the day before the window opened, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued a memo that essentially closed it, scaring teams into not talking the same type of turkey they had intended with a threat of the least-used weapon in the NFL arsenal:  the tampering investigation.

Through it all, it was clear that teams and agents “may not discuss or make any travel arrangements” until the launch of free agency.  Which makes the first paragraph from an article by Rich Cimini of particularly interesting.

“It was Monday night, and Mike DeVito was getting ready for a flight to Kansas City,” Cimini writes.  “There was an offer on the table from the Chiefs — a good offer — and he was leaving the next day to sign it.”

Those facts, apparently gleaned from a phone interview with DeVito, suggest a violation of the letter and spirit of the restrictions on the negotiating window.  And before Chiefs fans start accusing us of trying to start trouble for their team, we mention this only because the March 8 memo expressly threatened tampering investigations, and because most teams had seemed to be scared into not doing anything that could cross the line.

In the end, it could be that teams were crossing the line, but insisting on discretion from agents.

Regardless, the process apparently gave teams a chance to understand the market for unrestricted free agents — and essentially kill it.

24 responses to “DeVito courtship suggests violation of pre-free agency rules

  1. Define “getting ready for for a flight to KC”

    “Getting ready” could mean a number of different things.

    Does it mean he was at the airport “getting ready” to board a plane?

    Does it mean he was packing so he would be ready at a moment’s notice once travel arrangements were made?

    Does it mean KC inquired about flight schedules ( you know, without actually making travel arrangements) and found there was an available flight just after the 4:00 pm start of FA? And wanted DeVito at the airport ready to go as soon as arrangements were made and paid for?

    Were travel arrangements made but not paid for until 4:00 pm Tuesday? I know it’s a technicality,but if arrangements weren’t paid for until after 4:00 pm were they really made in advance of FA?

  2. This is probably no different to the past, right? Things have just been confused by this negotiation window, not helped.

  3. The Jets may get a second round pick from KC. This will teach KC a lesson. DeVito doesn’t love the Jets anymore. Maybe KC had a better offer. I wonder how many football players go into the NFL just for the money and not the super bowl.

  4. Chiefs should be penalized for tampering. Vontae Davis called out the Sean Smith tampering long in advance. Lo and behold who does he sign with? Have a feeling they prearranged a lot of the contracts in advance.

  5. so this is the THIRD free agent that they talked to before they were supposed to. Dunta Robinson had a 3 year deal almost a week before, and Vontae Davis told the world that KC was talking to Sean Smith weeks before FA started. he denied it, then signed with KC. Kansas City Cheits!!

  6. why is everyone so butt hurt about this news. all three of them were offered small contacts in comparison to past years. So even if they were offered contacts before FA officially started it didn’t sound like any other teams were in the market to pay these guys.

  7. It seems to me that if the NFL does not pursue a tampering charge against the Chiefs then they will never again be successful in implementing the penalty against a future tampering incident, with this precedent being set. The tampering team will will in court.

  8. My understanding is that the teams could negotiate with players agents in the few days prior to the formal opening of free agency. Therefore, isn’t this really an issue with DeVito’s agent arranging travel plans too early?

    The league office really needs to clarify the rules. Either free agency has started or it hasn’t. The “negotiating period” prior to the opening of free agency only invites confusion and errors to be made.

  9. Devito was a valuable Jet. If the Chief’s tampered, they should have to pay the price for hurting the Jets chances of resigning him.

    League needs to make an example of this. Poor Jets are getting looted by other teams for playing by the rules.

  10. I hear a lot of speculation and no real proof this means nothing and all I see is too many jealous people mad that the Kansas City chiefs stacked their secondary and signed mike Devito and don’t worry he had no intention on resigning with the jets and they will not lose any draft picks sorry for you haters out there

  11. If you would’ve told any Jets fans they were trading Mike DeVito for the 33rd overall pick, they would take that trade ten times out of ten. What a break for the snakebitten Jets if this true!

  12. Mike Florio is trying to start something. This trip was reported last week by Seth Walder on Wednesday, 3/13. I haven’t seen anything since then about it . . .

    “DeVito was the first Jet to find a new team, reaching an agreement with the Chiefs. Information about his impending trip to Kansas City came out shortly after the 4 p.m. opening to the league year.”

    JThe rest of the story:

    (Rich Cimini)”Then the New York Jets called his agent.”They made an offer at the last second,” the former Jets defensive lineman said in a phone interview. “I don’t even know what it was. With everything going on — the salary cap, [John] Idzik being new … it was just time to go. It was one of those things that had to happen.”DeVito didn’t know the specifics of the Jets’ offer, but it was nowhere close to the three-year, $12.6 million contract he landed with the Chiefs. No hard feelings, said DeVito, who loved his time in New York.

    The Jets expressed interest in retaining DeVito, Keller and Landry, but they had no intention of waging bidding wars even though they began free agency with about $15 million in cap room — roughly $6 million of that earmarked for the draft.”

    I don’t think the Chiefs cheated anyone out of anything.

    And this from analysis done by Albert Breer (3/11):

    “So this weekend, the info that was flowing came largely from agents — who, like the teams, are caught in a “What do I do here?” situation. As such, it was heavy on individual agendas. The agents feel the pressure, too, having to deliver for clients in what’s expected to be a depressed marketplace.

    The new setup has helped, giving teams looking to shop at the top of the market an idea about where the spending ceiling is going to be over the next week. The secondary tiers of free agents — those who will fill in behind the short list of big-time guys — have presented more of a challenge, thanks to the uncertainty about prices. Some clubs are wary about overspending, and some agents are petrified that they’ll undersell.

    “Some of the market is getting set with some deals getting done, so you can (project) a comparable market,” said an AFC personnel executive. “It’s created more of a pinpoint — ‘This is what it will cost,’ rather than, ‘I generally think this player’s market will be $5 million-$7 million.’ You now sense and feel a little better what it’ll take for X, Y or Z.””

    The NFL knew what was going on.

  13. The only reason people are saying it’s not a big deal is the Jets are involved. If it was your team you’d be screaming tampering. Personally I don’t care, we have two ends that are better than Devito.

  14. LOL!!!! How will the Jets get the Chiefs 2nd round draft pick in this years draft if it was already traded to the 49ers for Alex Smith….LOL!!!! Some people need to do some research before they start talking.

  15. This is old story.What else is new about thr KC violation. What is the NFL doing about it?

  16. 1 more thing every yr a day or 2 or so before free agency hits teams tell agents we would like for a certain player come and visit us 1st and the agent tells the player all the teams that are interested in him and they plan their flights its nothing new at all and every yr you hear of this

  17. heeterjoe your comment shows ur not a chiefs fan we traded our 2nd round pick long before this and why is it fair we give up a pick when the chiefs did nothing wrong like I said before its just jets fans crying about losing a player they liked when they should be calling to get rid of their coach there is a reason why players dont want to be jets

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