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For the first time, teams may contact unrepresented players during tampering period

With NFL teams being able to talk to free agents on the Monday before the league year begins, the beginning of free agency has lost a bit of it's pop.

For several years, the NFL has allowed teams to negotiate with the agents for impending unrestricted free agents during the two-day window before the start of free agency. That courtesy previously had not extended to players who represent themselves.

It now does.

PFT has obtained the March 7 memo to all teams regarding the rules for the legal tampering period. For the first time ever, it allows teams to communicate directly to players who represent themselves.

Previously, the inability of self-represented players to negotiate with teams during the tampering window had been one of the biggest reasons for unrestricted free agents to hire agents. Now that self-represented players may talk directly to teams, there’s one less reason to not go it alone. (That said, there are plenty of good reasons to have a good agent in lieu of not having one at all.)

Although none of the higher-profile unrestricted free agents represent themselves in the current cycle, the fact that the NFL has crossed this bridge likely means that the league won’t change course in the future. Which means that unrepresented players should be able, in 2020 and beyond, to talk to teams during the legal tampering window.

All other rules regarding the legal tampering window remain unchanged. Teams can negotiate without entering into a binding agreement. Non-binding agreements are permitted as the culmination to negotiations during the legal tampering window, with deals becoming official after 4:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday -- if/when those deals are signed.

The legal tampering window opens at 12:00 p.m. ET on Monday. If things unfold as they usually do, Monday will be quiet, and then come Tuesday reports will emerge regarding deals that players intend to sign once they are permitted to do so on Wednesday.