Monday at noon, NFL clubs are permitted to open negotiations with prospective free agents.
How far can said negotiations go? Our good friend at PFT, Mike Florio laid his grubby hands on a copy of the memo distributed to all teams and here’s what it says.
“During the two-day negotiating period, all clubs may negotiate all aspects of an NFL Player Contract with the certified agent of any prospective UFA. However, a new club may not execute an NFL Player Contract with a prospective UFA until 4:00 p.m., New York time, on March 9, when the player’s 2015 contract expires.”
So that’s pretty cut and dried.
But the league continues to try and thread the needle with hard-to-stop/enforce language that makes it hard to expect the rules to be honored. It’s not the first part I quoted but these details Florio paraphrased that are bound to be scoff-lawed.
Florio writes: “The memo next lists specific things that cannot be done. Teams cannot execute an NFL contract, execute an agreement in principle or other similar document, announce that an agreement in principle or other similar agreement has been reached, or reach agreement on any undisclosed terms. Also, teams cannot make travel arrangements with a prospective free agent before the launch of free agency, at 4:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday.”
If an agent outlines demands and a team agrees that those are do-able, that’s reaching an agreement. Even if a document isn’t signed stating the agreement has been reached. Additionally, don’t bother getting into the “making of travel arrangements” stuff. Just say that no player can be en route to a destination in advance of 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday. If a club wants to set up at the Ramada down the street from some guy’s house at 10 a.m. on that day, that’s fine. If Mohamed Sanu wants to book on Monday a 4:10 p.m. flight to Logan Wednesday, let him.
The memo also adds that principles set forth in the memo “may be considered conduct detrimental to the League, as well as a violation of the League’s Anti-Tampering Policy.” The memo warns that, if an investigation is required, the league would seek all relevant documents from the team under suspicion, including email and phone communications, along with a review of documents regarding travel arrangements for the player.
But that’s just saber-rattling. After all, the Jets committed conduct detrimental to the League when violating the League’s Anti-Tampering Policy by lusting after Darrelle Revis last year and they got fined $100,000. They got off because, in essence, Jets owner Woody Johnson is a dullard and didn’t know he couldn’t do what he did when he talked about how much he wanted Revis back on his team. Had he been smarter and tried to back-channel his interest – which the Jets surely did as well – the fallout might have been greater.
Annnnd, I’ve gone off on a tangent.