It’s that time of year again. The weekend before free agency officially begins, where teams can tamper with free agents, without actually tampering. Starting at 12:00 pm est Saturday and ending with the start of the new league year at 4:00 pm est on Tuesday, the legal tampering window is open.
In the past, there was confusion about what teams were and were not allowed to do regarding negotiations with pending free agents (not their own of course). The NFL released a memo to all teams this year, to try to clarify what they weren’t so clear on in the past. The memo, provided by NFL network reporter Albert Breer, stated that a team may “express its position as to signing bonus, length of contract, amounts of signing bonus and yearly compensation”, but it “cannot make an offer” or “enter into a written or oral agreement of any kind”.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter shared more specific rules and outlines for clubs during the tampering period on Facebook. Here is what Schefter had to share-
“During the three-day period commencing at 12 noon, New York time, on Saturday, March 8, and ending at 3:59:59 p.m., New York time, on Tuesday, March 11, clubs are permitted to contact, and enter into contract negotiations with, the certified agents of players who will become Unrestricted Free Agents upon the expirations of their 2013 Player Contracts at 4:00 p.m., New York time, on March 11. However, a contract cannot be executed with a new club until 4:00 p.m., New York time, on March 11.
1. During this negotiating period, a club is permitted to:
a. Submit a written summary of the club’s negotiating position to a certified agent;
b. Express its position as to signing bonus, length of contract, amounts of signing bonus and yearly compensation, and other items;
c. Adjust its negotiating position in response to a certified agent’s position; and
d. Engage in an oral exchange of positions.
2. A club must express that it is stating a negotiating position, not making an offer. No part of the exchange of information is binding on either party.
3. A club cannot:
a. Execute a contract;
b. Submit a draft of an NFL Player Contract to a certified agent or the player;
c. Make an “offer;”
d. Enter into a written or oral agreement of any kind, express or implied, or make promises or representations of any type concerning the terms or conditions of employment to be offered to any Unrestricted Free Agent for inclusion in a Player Contract after the start of the new League Year;
e. Provide assurances of intent as to the future execution of an NFL Player Contract;
f. Announce an agreement or an agreement in principle; or
g. Discuss or make travel arrangements for a player.
During this negotiating period, a prospective Unrestricted Free Agent cannot visit a club (other than the player’s current club) at its permanent facility or at any other location, and no direct contact is permitted between the player and any employee or representative of a club (other than the player’s current club). If a player is self-represented, clubs are prohibited from discussions with the player during the negotiating period.
Furthermore, clubs (other than the player’s current club) may not discuss or make any travel arrangements with prospective Unrestricted Free Agent players, their certified agents, or anyone else associated with the player until the expiration of those players’ contracts at 4:00 p.m., New York time, on March 11.
The three-day negotiating period applies only to potential Unrestricted Free Agents; it does not apply to players who are potential Exclusive Rights Players or Restricted Free Agents, or to players who have been designated as Franchise Players or Transition Players.”
So in summary, teams and agents can essentially do everything but fill out a contract. 🙂