How NFL Teams and Agents Routinely Ignore Rules to Broker Deals Early

The tampering period is 48 hours where teams and agents can legally negotiate for the first time.

free agency
Quarterback Kirk Cousins #8 of the Washington Redskins warms up before a game against the Denver Broncos at FedExField on December 24, 2017 in Landover, Maryland. (Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
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Over the next three weeks, you will hear a lot about free agency and the rules in the NFL. There will also be a lot of speculation about what will happen during the league’s so-called “tampering period,” which is a 48-hour stretch where teams and agents can legally negotiate for the first time. But Sports Illustrated writes that this is pretty much all for show. The deals that will be done in 20 days are real, but most of the other things between now and then are fiction. One agent told Sports Illustrated about what’s going on with a client of his that hit the market. The agent is talking about leaving the combine in Indianapolis with a week left before the legal tampering period, but how he absolutely knew by then that he had his financial figure and at least two teams would pay it.

“I knew they were all in, like all in, more than before the combine—way more in,” said the agent, according to Sports Illustrated. “There was still a smattering of others, but I wasn’t feeling overtly confident that we were going to have five or 10. All I cared about was, Do I have the number that I predicted? By then, you don’t care who. The week before free agency, it’s more about, ‘Hey, I got my number.’ Everything else is smoke and mirrors.”

The truth is that the agent knew what had before the period. The rest of it is just a made-for-TV song and dance to make everyone believe that there are life-altering decisions made for teams and players during those two days.

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