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What is the NFL's legal tampering period?

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NFL
The NFL's legal tampering period began Monday at noon ET.
USA TODAY

Welcome to the legal tampering portion of NFL free agency. 

The term itself might sound like a contradiction, but legal tampering gives NFL teams the ability to contact pending unrestricted free agents on opposing teams who remain under contract until the official end of the league year on Wednesday at 4 p.m.

Expect a free agency frenzy filled with reports of rumored interest and negotiations. 

When does legal tampering period begin?

Teams are strictly prohibited from contacting soon-to-be free agents prior to the legal tampering period. That period began Monday at 12 p.m. ET, making it the unofficial start of free agency.   

It gives NFL teams 52 hours to contact soon-to-be free agents and their representatives, negotiate a contract and even come to an agreement.

What happens during the legal tampering period?

Teams can have discussions about the parameters of a potential contract with a pending unrestricted free agent, but they can not make an official offer. Restricted free agents are only permitted to negotiate with the team holding their rights.

Here is how an NFL outlined the legal tampering period in a memo from 2013

"Clubs are further advised that prior to the beginning of the new League Year it is impermissible for a club to enter into an agreement of any kind, express or implied, oral or written, or promises, undertakings, representations, commitments, inducements, assurances of intent or understandings of any kind concerning the terms or conditions of employment offered to, or to be offered to, any prospective Unrestricted Free Agent for inclusion in a Player Contract after the start of the new League Year. Any announcement of an agreement or an agreement in principle by a club or another party, including, but not limited to, a certified agent, player, or media organization may subject the club to a tampering investigation."

 

When can NFL free agents sign a contract?

While soon-to-be free agents can have preliminary negotiations with a new team during the legal tampering period, they can't officially sign a new deal until Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET when contracts officially end.

Who are the NFL's top free agents on the market?

The headliner in 2022 free agency is Davante Adams, who is widely expected to return to the Green Bay Packers.

Other marquee free agents include Saints offensive tackle Terron Armstead, Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin, Rams linebacker Von Miller and Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson. 

Here is a ranking of the top 25 NFL free agents and a tracker for all free agency updates.