Pre-free agency period should permit players to visit teams

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The ninth week of PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio, a three-hour show focusing on NFL issues with NFL guests, featured a guy who got a head start on the free-agency market.  And that guy made a great case for change when it comes to the normal operation of the free-agency process.

Quarterback Josh McCown, who visited with multiple teams before picking the Browns, explained the value of having a chance to gather information, ask questions, and assess offers without the urgency that arises once the market officially opens.  When that happens, many teams press players for quick decisions, explaining that if the player doesn’t take the offer now, the team will move on to the next option.

The NFL currently uses a three-day window during which player agents may solicit negotiating positions from teams.  But no visits are allowed.  Why not expand the pre-free-agency period to a full week and allow players to make visits while their agents are receiving offers that won’t be binding until free agency opens?

That would give both sides a chance to gather information and make the kind of deliberate decision that McCown was able to reach.  With one or more years of a player’s career on the line, including for many veterans important personal issues like available housing, educational options for children, and quality-of-life issues, the player shouldn’t have to endure the end-of-month-what-can-I-do-to-put-you-in-this-car-today? shtick.  It should be about forging a true partnership, and that often requires something more deliberate than “here’s our offer, sign it now or we’re going to yank it and offer to another guy who plays your position.”

To hear McCown’s interview, click here and scroll down the “Best Guests” tab.  To hear full shows, one hour at a time, from last week, click here and then select PFT Live.

10 responses to “Pre-free agency period should permit players to visit teams

  1. Whats the sense of having a 3 day tampering period then if they keep altering the rules? Why not just start it righta way then? Or wait until it was originally suppose to be intended, on the first day of the new league year

  2. cmosiedrum
    Mar 7, 2015, 9:08 AM PST
    If that happens wouldn’t that make Pre-Free Agency, Free Agency??
    That you, Keanu?

  3. I agree. The NBA allows it and plenty of players re-sign with teams.

    Just because a league is different from yours it doesn’t mean the saying “it’s how we’ve always done it” is okay.

  4. This one actually makes sense. Moving is no fun to begin with, and having a family makes it exponentially harder. We always hear how some team isn’t going to let a FA leave without a contract, so we know this pressure is real, and if the guy does leave, he usually signs with someone else. The exception to this is guys that get cut before free agency starts, and can do it like McCown just did. As shocking as it may be, his comments about the Browns and the fit there have been very positive.

    He isn’t the greatest guy to use as an example, but Albert Haynesworth’s comments about doing research before signing a contract comes to mind. If these guys weren’t under pressure to sign right now, Maybe there would be more free agents that actually work out and do well after signing the deal.

  5. @rajbais

    I agree. The NBA allows it and plenty of players re-sign with teams.


    Plenty of NBA players re-sign with their team because they are able to offer more years (5) and money than any other team.

  6. Well said, Flo.

    It’s plain common sense that this should change. If it was me in this situation, I’d unofficially fly to every possible city and check it all out with my family. Dumb to not let these players do their due diligence on something which affects their lives so greatly.

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