A decade or so ago, in response to evidence of rampant tampering before the official start of free agency, the NFL adopted a two-day negotiating period for impending free agents.
And now, of course, the rampant tampering happens before the negotiating period begins.
Wait and see. Before the negotiation period (known in many circles as “legal tampering”) was adopted, free agents would have multi-million-dollar deals with new teams in place literally minutes after the market opened. It still happens now; the only difference is that the contracts aren’t enforceable until they’re officially submitted to the league after 4:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, when the league year opens.
Thus, the negotiating period serves no purpose, other than to confuse fans as to when free agency begins. It begins at noon ET on Monday. Why not just begin free agency then?
As of noon, teams will start calling agents with specific deals and tight deadlines. Teams will have a list of preferred options at the positions they’ve targeted. They’ll want to know if the first option is ready to do a deal. If he isn’t, they’ll have to move on to the next one. And the next.
But some deals will be already done. They are already done. Those are the ones we’ll hear about quickly. And it will be further proof that, despite the two-day legal tampering window, illegal tampering still happens.
So get rid of legal tampering. It’s a waste of time. Go back to the old approach, accept that all teams tamper, and trust that they’ll be discreet about it.