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Pre-free agency period should permit players to visit teams


The ninth week of PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio, a three-hour show focusing on NFL issues with NFL guests, featured a guy who got a head start on the free-agency market. And that guy made a great case for change when it comes to the normal operation of the free-agency process.

Quarterback Josh McCown, who visited with multiple teams before picking the Browns, explained the value of having a chance to gather information, ask questions, and assess offers without the urgency that arises once the market officially opens. When that happens, many teams press players for quick decisions, explaining that if the player doesn’t take the offer now, the team will move on to the next option.

The NFL currently uses a three-day window during which player agents may solicit negotiating positions from teams. But no visits are allowed. Why not expand the pre-free-agency period to a full week and allow players to make visits while their agents are receiving offers that won’t be binding until free agency opens?

That would give both sides a chance to gather information and make the kind of deliberate decision that McCown was able to reach. With one or more years of a player’s career on the line, including for many veterans important personal issues like available housing, educational options for children, and quality-of-life issues, the player shouldn’t have to endure the end-of-month-what-can-I-do-to-put-you-in-this-car-today? shtick. It should be about forging a true partnership, and that often requires something more deliberate than “here’s our offer, sign it now or we’re going to yank it and offer to another guy who plays your position.”

To hear McCown’s interview, click here and scroll down the “Best Guests” tab. To hear full shows, one hour at a time, from last week, click here and then select PFT Live.