Officially, NFL teams cannot sign free agents until Tuesday at 4 p.m.
But there’s a twist this year. The league has created a three-day period where teams can talk and negotiate with agents. That starts at midnight tonight and extends to Tuesday. The catch? No deals can be made official, and teams are not permitted to talk to the actual players.
“You get to be able to talk to them [the agents] and get parameters so you’re not spending all that time on Tuesday at 4 o’clock doing that,” said Eagles general manager Howie Roseman. “At the same time, you’ve got to talk to the players. You’ve got to meet with the players, and you’ve got to get in front of them. You can’t do that until free agency kicks off. I think that’s when it kind of turns into high gear, but you save some of the background time.”
In other words, it’s a “legal tampering” period. Teams skirted the rules in the past, and they’re likely to find another way to do so this year. But the extra three-day window will extend the NFL news cycle as teams and agents are sure to float rumors all weekend long.
One thing to remember: Nothing’s done until it’s done. You’ll hear reports about deals being close or pretty much finalized quite a bit in the next few days. But since nothing can be made official until Tuesday, there will always be wiggle room.
“I think it’s fair to say that we felt that it was something that would at least bring some organization to what had been a very chaotic process,” said ESPN analyst Bill Polian, who was part of the league’s competition committee that discussed the change. “Agents can talk to clubs, they can go back to the old club with what one would assume would be a bona fide offer or some parameters. They can gauge who is interested and who is not interested.
“So all of those things may bring a little more organization to it than had previously existed. But I’m going to be as anxious as you to see if we come out of the box with deals at 4:01 p.m., or if it serves as a way to sort of set the market before people begin to do deals.”
The Eagles have money to spend and needs to fill. It should be an eventful week coming up. We’ll have it all covered right here.