League sends revised memo that permits negotiations, prohibits offers and agreements

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Yes, it’s happened again.  And this time it’s even more bizarre.

The same conflicting signals sent by the NFL in 2013 have been sent again regarding the legal tampering period.  This time, however, the NFL has tried to reconcile that which is inherently irreconcilable.

The rules say that negotiations with the agents of free agents may occur starting at 12:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, but that no contract may be executed (i.e., signed) before 4:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday.  The NFL has supplemented the rules with a memo, a copy of which PFT has obtained, articulating a warped interpretation of the standard in a way that makes it pointless to try to negotiate anything.

The rules say negotiations may occur.  Last year’s memo says no agreement of any kind may be reached.  This year’s memo tries to bridge an unbridgeable gap of logic.

The memo permits a team to “[s]ubmit a written summary of the club’s negotiating position,” to “[e]xpress its position as to signing bonus, length of contract, amounts of signing bonus and yearly compensation, and other items,” to “[a]djust its negotiating position in response to a certified agent’s position,” and “[e]ngage in an oral exchange of positions.”

However, the team must say that it’s only articulating a “negotiating position,” not “making an offer.”  Under the memo, no offers can be made, and no express or implied agreements can be reached.

Last year, the memo scared teams away from striking agreements in principle — or at least from letting it be known via media leaks that agreements in princinple had been reached.  As the NFL tries to create a letter-of-intent-style signing day for free agency, maybe that’s the real purpose of this now-annual memo, which in its effort to become more clear has made everything only more vague.

The league, which surely realizes negotiations have been occurring discreetly (or otherwise) for weeks, doesn’t want the next three days to entail scattered reports that a player will sign as of Tuesday with a specific team.  This approach allows the NFL’s in-house media conglomerate to engineer a maximum TV and online audience when the light officially goes from red to green.

The NFL knows there’s no way at this point to apply the brakes to negotiations that already have started.  But by issuing a strict, nonsensical memo that prevents negotiations from leading to their natural outcome, the league ensures that Tuesday will be yet another appointment date on the ever-growing league calendar.

Maybe I shouldn’t complain about that. . . .

Still, the memo isn’t about stopping negotiations from happening and agreements in principle from being reached.  It’s about ensuring that news of deals that already have been reached on a wink-nod basis won’t be released until the curtain is raised on Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. ET, when millions of NFL fans flock to their televisions, computers, tablets, and phones to find out who their favorite teams are signing, and who their favorite teams are losing.

Yeah, I definitely shouldn’t complain about that. . . .

Until then, the flurry of behind-the-scenes activity that will culminate in those announcements will remain (ideally for the NFL) as silent and discreet as the weeks of tampering that already has been occurring.

And that’s what bugs me the most about this.  The NFL isn’t trying to keep negotiations from resulting in tentative agreements.  The NFL is trying to keep the fans from finding out what’s really happening until the NFL is ready for the fans to know.

25 responses to “League sends revised memo that permits negotiations, prohibits offers and agreements

  1. The Washington Redskins road to a 4th Superbowl begins this upcoming Monday when we land all the free agents who are any good in Pro Football. #BurgundyandGoldStandard

  2. The Vikings 2014 Season-

    Coach of the year: Mike Zimmer

    MVP: Cordarelle Patterson

    Super Bowl MVP: Adrian Peterson

    The Vikings Dynasty Starts Now.

  3. The Vikings Attract free agents just by our beautiful uniforms and colorful history.We are the model franchise and the shehawks,cheeseheads,lions,etc….are our peasants.other franchises wish they had a decorated history like us.3rd most div titles in the NFL.We are a model franchise.SKOL

  4. Regarding your last paragraph above:
    With Twitter, Facebook and the like used by just about everyone in our culture today, the NFL is fighting a losing battle, an already lost battle or is just being naive to an everyday reality.

  5. So really there is no plan and there are no rules, at least not any that make any sense or control things down to a science. It’s all a chaotic free for all and every team fends for themselves. Just do whatever and don’t be overly stupid with public declaring what you are doing.

  6. My prediction that the Vikings will be active in FA and sign a Qb that sucks is officially rescinded. They already signed Cassel so they are no longer in need of a QB that sucks.

    Their secondary already sucks so there is no need to sign anyone there either.

  7. All we have to do is what a couple days… Not to bad.

    If anything this is more of pain to media outlets that want to be the first to report deals and framework of situations. Social media is a beast though and news is sure to leak out.

  8. Figures. It takes a lawyer to squawk about meaningless rules being broken when no one cares and no damage is being done. Yes, the NFL wants a “signing day” and guess what? Most of us are quite okay with that.

    In the word of Bugs Bunny, “what a maroon”.

  9. You’d never know that the NFL is a multi-billion dollar industry and most popular sports league in the country by reading Mr. Florio’s posts. Quite the consistent stream of criticism. But, as explained by the great Theodore Roosevelt, it is not the critic who counts.

  10. The NFL “clarification memo” is just as clear as mud. It is really very simple NFL, just tell ALL parties involved in any type dialogue to just don’t make ANY announcements until Tuesday. Period. The end!

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