It's after 11 AM Central time, ladies and gentlemen, and that means the National Football League's "legal tampering" period for free agency has officially gotten underway!
What that means is that, for the next 48 hours, the agents that represent those NFL players that are about to hit the free agent market can start contacting and/or meeting with teams about their clients. So, what exactly does that mean? According to Pro Football Talk,
"During the two-day negotiating period, all clubs may negotiate all aspects of an NFL Player Contract with the certified agent of any prospective UFA," explains the March 2 memo to all teams, a copy of which PFT has obtained. "However, a new club may not execute an NFL Player Contract with a prospective UFA until 4:00 p.m., New York time, on March 9, when the player's 2015 contract expires."
The memo then explains that "the only valid, binding and enforceable employment agreement between an NFL player and an NFL club is an NFL Player Contract that has been fully executed by the parties in compliance with all applicable League rules and the CBA," and that any discussions regarding possible employment or terms of employment "are non-binding and are unenforceable by the player or the club."
So, teams can't officially sign anybody until the start of the new league year, which occurs at 3:00 PM Central time on Wednesday, 9 March. But they can structure the framework of a deal that their clients can agree to after the new league year starts.
The purpose of the "legal tampering" period. . .which is really sort of a dumb name. . .is to allow NFL teams to do the things that NFL teams were unofficially doing anyway. This way, when a free agent signs a contract with a new team two minutes after the start of the new league year, nobody has to wonder "Boy, I wonder how they got that deal done so quickly?"
We're almost officially to the start of the new league year, ladies and gentlemen. As soon as we get any news relating to the Minnesota Vikings, we will pass it along to you.