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Behind the Scenes: Tampering at the NFL Combine

Vikings team officials descend on Indianapolis and so do the player agents to watch prospects and gauge markets

Minnesota Vikings Press Conference
We’re not saying that Rick Spielman would do that, mind you.
Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

With the Combine starting today, that also means all the decision-makers and player agents are in a single spot. This is better known as the “illegal tampering period.” The NFL knows this happens and even though it pumps out a yearly memo to teams, all teams participate with some trying to be covert about it, while others are more open in their efforts.

Alex Marvez wrote about it back in 2014.

NFL executives from three different clubs told the same thing. “All of this stuff goes on constantly,” one of them said. “Rules are bent. Some are blatant about it. There’s some man-to-man talk [between teams and agents]. You get a jump on the contract structure way in advance so you can find out whether the price is acceptable to you. If not, you move onto another player.”

As Albert Breer wrote at Sports Illustrated just a few days ago;

Listen to the words of one prominent agent, who’s going back with us through a timeline from a few years back, when a client of his hit the market. At this point, the agent is recounting leaving the combine in Indianapolis, with a week left before the legal tampering period, and how he absolutely knew by then that: A) he had his financial figure, and B) 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. “There was still a smattering of others, but I wasn’t feeling overly 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.”

This will be the time period that the Vikings will clarify who they will target, and at what price. Some information regarding those efforts gets leaked, especially depending on the team. The Vikings have usually been very tight-lipped in the past. Make no mistake, though; they will know their targets and market values after this week in Indianapolis. Not only will they be looking at Kirk Cousins, I’m sure they’ll be getting a feel for Case Keenum, Sam Bradford, and Teddy Bridgewater, just so they know. Quarterbacks aren’t the only ones they will gauge, as I would also expect virtually all the top free agents in any position, especially positions of need like the offensive and defensive line, and players price ranges will be figured out.

This is a fun time for rumors.