In order to address the reality that tampering is rampant prior to the annual launch of free agency, the NFL instituted several years ago a negotiating window that creates a two-day period for communications that previously happened (in violation of the rules) before free agency officially began.
So what happens now? The same thing. Before the window opens, negotiations happen in violation of the rules.
Every team does it. It’s tampering. And no one cares, including the league office.
The end result is a clunky 52-hour period during which a flood of deals are done, the teams aren’t allowed to say they’re done, and the league’s media conglomerate otherwise presents the deals as done. It makes no sense, and it causes potential confusion.
Technically, any of the deals done since Monday at noon ET (except those involving a player staying with his current team) can be scrapped before they become official once signed after 4:00 p.m. ET. It’s not unprecedented, and in theory it could happen again today. The player can back out, the team can back out.
So why not just go back to the old way of doing it? Start your engines, and don’t begin the race two days later. Either way, tampering happens. No one believes it doesn’t. So just let it all officially start when free agency launches.
Launch it on a Monday at 4 ET or noon ET or somewhere in between. Whenever, it all needs to start at once. The current approach makes the official start of free agency meaningless, it potentially confuses fans who don’t realize that free agency actually starts when the negotiating window opens, and it does nothing to undermine the perception/reality that tampering is rampant.