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NFL Free Agent Negotiation Period Ends With Whimper

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As of midnight last night, the NFL's first 72-hour "legal tampering" period ended. Did anyone even notice it? The NFL opened up a negotiating window, then threatened the teams to not come to deals, or actually talk to the players. So, what was the point? No one really knows.


The NFL's three day pre-free agency negotiating period has ended, and everyone is left asking.....why? What was the point of 72 hours of being allowed to talk to player representatives, but being told you can't talk to the players and you absolutely cannot come to a deal with the player?

The NFL's first crack at letting teams start negotiations with soon-to-be free agents, before their contracts expire, was less than anyone expected. For a league that is able to turn just about anything it touches into boat loads of cash, these last three days have been a let down. Instead of generating excitement and making fans lust for the start of free agency, it proved to be a lot of nothing.

"It's like speed dating," said one NFC personnel director told's Albert Breer. "You are allowed to talk to each other for five minutes but have to wait until the end of the evening to ask for a date."

The league is said to be considering changing the offseason calendar to ensure one "big event" (Super Bowl, Scouting Combine, Free Agency, Draft) happens each month between February and May. The league has changed the Draft from a weekend event into a three day, prime-time extravaganza. The Scouting Combine has become must see TV each year.

Fans constantly thirst for NFL news. Free agency's soft opening could have been something special. Instead, it became the three days before free agency started - just like it was every other year.

Instead of teams and players agreeing to terms, then those being leaked, we got a smattering of rumors, most of which had surfaced within the past few weeks, with out a "legal tampering" period. The rumors during the last 72 hours have nothing on the back and forth speculation of last year's head coach Jeff Fisher pursuit, and was no where near the Peyton Manning chase. It could have been, but it fell far short.

The NFL mad sure of that. Breer obtained a memo from the NFL to all 32 teams, sent just before the start of the negotiating period, that threatened the teams, and laid out the rules of the 72 hour period. That memo read:

TO: General Managers
Head Coaches
Player Personnel Directors
FROM: Commissioner Goodell
DATE: March 8, 2013

SUBJECT: Impermissible Activity During the Three-day Negotiating Period for Unrestricted Free Agents

Clubs were advised in PP-26-13 that during the three-day negotiating period for prospective Unrestricted Free Agents, they are permitted to contact, and enter into contract negotiations with, the certified agents of players who will become Unrestricted Free Agents upon the expiration of their 2012 Player Contracts at 4:00 p.m., New York time, on March 12, and that no contract can be executed with a new club until 4:00 p.m., New York time, on March 12.

Clubs are further advised that 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. Any announcement of an agreement or an agreement in principle by a club or another party, including, but not limited to, a certified agent, player, or media organization may subject the club to a tampering investigation.

Please contact the Player Personnel department if you have any questions

Hopefully someone is now contacting the Player Personnel department to ask what was the point.