At noon ET, free agency begins — as it relates to unrestricted free agents. For others, the process remains delayed until the league year begins at 4:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
As noted in a Q&A circulated moments ago by the NFL, “The two-day negotiating period applies only to prospective unrestricted free agents. It does not apply to players who have received, or who may receive, a required tender applicable to the 2023 League Year (e.g., Exclusive Rights Players, Restricted Free Agents, Franchise Players or Transition Players).”
The biggest name this year that falls into the latter category belongs to Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. Jackson can’t speak to anyone, and no one can speak to Jackson, until Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. ET.
Complicating matters for Jackson and interested teams is that he continues to represent himself. Interested teams will have to track him down. The NFL Players Association could be the most effective conduct for communication.
Then, Jackson and an interested team will have to negotiate a contract. Based on Baltimore’s experience with Jackson, that may be an insurmountable challenge. Unless a team is willing to show up with an offer sheet that gives Jackson everything he wants.
Next comes the question of whether he signs an offer sheet, or whether the Ravens and the prospective team work out a trade. If an offer sheet is signed, the Ravens will have five business days to match it, or to not match it.
Regardless of how it plays out, nothing officially can happen until Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. ET. That’s when a team will, or won’t, make a play for the 2019 NFL MVP.
If a new team is willing to flesh out a potential trade, those conversations can happen at any time. With permission of the Ravens, another team could negotiate with Jackson. As of Wednesday, a global deal could be executed.
There’s currently no indication that any team is actively negotiating with the Ravens on a potential trade. There’s currently no indication that any specific team will be pursuing him. Soon, we’ll know whether anyone will, or won’t, make a serious play for his services.