Tuesday March 7, at 12:00 p.m. EST, marks the beginning of the beginning of the NFL’s league year. Free Agency and the official new season kicks off March 9, 2017, at 4:00 p.m. EST. It is then that we find out who has been tampering with free agents on the low-low and the down and dirty.
Rumor has it that napkins with numbers may or may not have been passed across tables and more than just casual conversation was struck up during the combine in years past. There’s a saying, “Those who tell, don’t know and those who know, don’t tell.” So with that being said, let’s step away from speculation of the way things used to be and move on to the way they are in the here and now.
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This Tuesday through Thursday is the appointed time period for the courtship of free agents to begin. Teams are free to host visits and engage in talks with agents, representatives and players alike. On these visits and phone calls, everything is prepared so that when the clock strikes four, the only thing left to do is sign on the dotted line and fax it into the league’s Park Avenue office.
Talent acquisition in the NFL is without a doubt a practice that has become more cutthroat than political elections. With massive amounts of money on the line and the hopes of a franchise hanging in the balance, teams do whatever they can to gain an edge to get what they need. Misinformation is fed from general manage to general manager in hopes of driving down player markets and ensuring player availability, while agents use it in an attempt to provoke the ever-profitable bidding war for the services of their clients.
It makes for truly entertaining theater as the drama unfolds with beloved players becoming free agents. Few will be awarded mega-deals within minutes of inception of the new league year, while for others free agency will be a tragedy as they try to pick up their lives and move on in hopes of finding redemption with a fresh change of scenery.
Fans will hope against hope that a combination of their team’s roster, cap space and the locale of their team will be enough to cajole the player of their desire into signing. It’s quite fascinating to hear all the massive contracts announced every fifteen minutes or so as the faxes come pouring in and league approval is granted. It all leads to a crescendo of jubilation and despair, with either the football gods smiling on the team of your backing or the bitter agony of losing a member of your proverbial football family.
One thing is certain though, when the new league year begins and the space between team officials and contracts evaporate, it’s going to leave owners reaching for their checkbooks and fans scouring social media for every possible rumor and update.
— Philip Robinson writes for cover32 and covers the NFL and the Oakland Raiders. He can be followed on Twitter @chocP3thunder.