Haden free agency could prompt a memo from the league office

AP

The Browns released cornerback Joe Haden early Wednesday morning. Not long after 4:00 p.m. ET, he had an agreement in place with the Steelers. In the interim, plenty of teams were jostling to get a deal in place with Haden.

Here’s the problem: Haden technically didn’t become a free agent until the NFL issued the daily transaction report containing Haden’s name.

The fact that multiple teams were pursuing Haden before 4:00 p.m. ET means that multiple teams technically were tampering with Haden. Which means, as one league source predicted to PFT, the league will be issuing a memo to all teams reminding them of the rule that a player who is cut in the morning isn’t free to be contacted in any way until the transaction report is released by the league.

It’s a minor violation, with no harm at all to the Browns. But that doesn’t change the fact that the rule was violated — as the Chiefs learned the hard way in 2015 when they lost a third-round pick for talking directly to receiver Jeremy Maclin when they were permitted only to talk to Maclin’s agent.

The situation is another example of how the rules routinely are broken, and of how the NFL enforces the rules selectively. In this case, chances are the league won’t selectively enforce the rules against the Steelers or any other teams that were chasing Haden. But it may be enough to prompt the league to remind teams of the rule, if only to make it easier to ding someone else, when the league is motivated to take action against another team that commits the same violation at some point in the future.

18 responses to “Haden free agency could prompt a memo from the league office

  1. That makes zero sense. Once a team tells you to your face that you’re done, that’s when you should become a free agent. Seems like the “league office” is trying to make itself useful by splitting hairs.

  2. The league has premised the entire process on the concept of progressive discipline. If the loss of a third round pick doesn’t change teams behaviors, a bigger penalty should be imposed. If a bigger penalty doesn’t work the, people that commit the violations should be suspended without pay. If suspension without pay doesn’t work, a longer suspension without pay should be imposed. So by your own logic Mike Florio, Pittsburgh should lose a second round draft pick.

  3. Isn’t everything ruled selectively as far as punishments? Some people get a lighter sentence than others for the same crime or probation .., repeat offenders, intent, a lot going on. Don’t see a big problem with it.

  4. It’s enforced about as much as the rule of no running backs are allowed to lead with the crown of their helmet. Has there ever been a flag thrown on that rule?

  5. “But it may be enough to prompt the league to remind teams of the rule, if only to make it easier to ding someone else, when the league is motivated to take action against another team that commits the same violation at some point in the future”.

    LIKE THE PATRIOTS! Although after being hammered by the league a couple of times BB doesn’t do anything without getting approval from the league office, like the OL substitutions vs Baltimore in 2014 playoffs. They got approval 1st. Then the league changes the rule asap.

  6. As per the permissible pre-free agency tampering window rule, teams were permitted to contact Haden’s agent the moment he got released and discuss potential contracts. They’re just not allowed to sign an actual contract until after 4:00 PM. Much ado about nothing.

  7. This is the Browns analytics at it again, as they expect every team who contacted Haden to lose a draft pick, thereby increasing the value of their hoard of 2018 picks.

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