NFL’s Tampering Window Contains Signings, Speculation And Confusion

Washington Redskins tight end Logan Paulsen (82) has signed a new deal with the Washington Redskins. Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
Washington Redskins tight end Logan Paulsen (82) has agreed to a new deal with the Washington Redskins within the opening of the “tampering window.” Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

We are currently in the midst of a “tampering window”; a small, three-day opportunity for NFL clubs to enter into negotiations with the agents of players set to become unrestricted free agents.  The window opened on Saturday morning and closes at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, March 12.  The opening of the window invites a bunch of speculation, with many in the media saying Player X will go to Team Y.  It led one football agent to Tweet the following.

Biggest lesson of first hours of free agency. Media knows nothing. Don’t believe anything you read. It’s all smoke & mirrors
David Canter

And another, who made an effort to advise the media of his competitors’ tactics.

News flash, every agent contacted will tell you there client has multiple suitors.
Rick Smith

And what about the small number of players, such as Ed Reed, who are unrepresented?  The NFL has said,

“If a player is self-represented, clubs are prohibited from discussions with the player during the negotiating period.”

The “tampering window” is not truly a tampering window.  It is more of a window to allow players’s representatives to enter into discussions about future contracts with the league’s 32 teams…as if that has not already been occurring since at least the start of the NFL Combine.

Many agents I have talked to seem to be rather upset and somewhat confused about the new tampering window.

Definition of DUD: 1) A thing that fails to work properly or is otherwise unsatisfactory or worthless. 2) Start of #NFL Free Agency
Mike McCartney

Why penalize players (by prohibiting them from having discussions with team personnel) for not choosing to sign with an agent?  Why create the tampering window only to threaten teams with a “tampering probe” should they violate a rule that stipulates, “prior to the beginning of the new League Year it is impermissible for a club to enter into an agreement of any kind, express or implied, oral or written, or promises, undertakings, representations, commitments, inducements, assurances of intent or understandings of any kind concerning the terms or conditions of employment offered to, or to be offered to, any prospective Unrestricted Free Agent for inclusion in a Player Contract after the start of the new League Year”?  The rumor is that this is all an effort to create an artificial “National Signing Day” in professional football.  There has to be a less confusing, back-door method to accomplish such a goal.