It is officially Legal Tampering Day in the NFL! Which is basically unofficially the start of the new league year. Get it?
Free agency actually beings on March 17th at 4 p.m. E.T. — that is the point when players with expiring contracts can sign with their new teams. That is also the deadline for team’s to get right with this year’s $182.5 million salary cap.
So what it is Legal Tampering exactly? Today, on March 15th at 12 p.m. E.T., the courtship process starts. In short, the negotiating period for prospective unrestricted free agents will begin.
Here is the league’s explanation, directly from NFL.Com:
During the two-day period (from today to Wednesday), all teams have the right to negotiate “all aspects of an NFL player contract” with the certified agent of an impending free agent. Figures can be exchanged on a deal, but nothing can be agreed to or announced before the start of free agency on Wednesday.
There are restrictions to this process. A free agent is not permitted to visit with a team other than their current team. Furthermore, a player cannot be in contact with a team that is not their own. Only the agent can communicate on the player’s behalf during this period. If a player acts as his own agent, he’s out of luck — the NFL does not allow communication with another team before Wednesday.
In the memo, the NFL also reminds teams that breaking the rules of the negotiating period could be considered conduct detrimental to the league as well as a violation of the league’s anti-tampering policy. Translation: Play by our rules or we’re coming for your wallet and/or draft picks.
So although nothing can actually be signed today, there’s a good chance that we’re going to see some big announcements this afternoon and evening.