NFL Free Agency: So, is it on the pot or not?


The “unofficial start of Free Agency” is under way, but no one is real sure of the rules in light of a memo sent out late Friday. Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Months ago, the new rules governing the “unofficial start” of Free Agency were issued by the NFL.

Then comes Friday night on the eve when teams can actually start negotiating with agents and the NFL sends a memo out to all NFL teams telling them something to the effect that is the exact opposite of the new rules … that under no circumstances are they to negotiate … Huh?

Here’s the language issued months ago for the new rule:

"The “2013 free agency questions and answers” published by the NFL on Thursday plainly state: “Beginning at 12:00 midnight ET on Saturday, March 9 (i.e., after 11:59:59 p.m. ET, on Friday, March 8) and ending at 3:59:59 p.m. ET on Tuesday, March 12, clubs are permitted to contact, and enter into 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. ET on March 12.  However, a contract cannot be executed with a new club until 4:00 p.m. ET on March 12.”"

Friday’s memo was then issued began by stating: “… no contract can be executed until 4:00 p.m., New York time, on March 12.”

Ok, I think we all knew that.

But then the memo goes on to include this paragraph:

"“…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.”"

Say what? Is the new rule effective or is it the memo that takes precedence? In the rule it says they can contact and negotiate. In the memo, it says that prior to Tuesday they cannot negotiate.

Mike Florio of profootball talk said it best last night when he wrote:

"So what the hell are the teams and agents supposed to be negotiating?"

We can only agree and hope that this doesn’t slow progress of the process. As fans, we want this process to move forward. We want all teams to have the opportunity to be as flexible as possible in their process and to get their rosters set as soon as possible so they can move on and plan their strategies for the draft.

Not that it would really make much difference for the Green Bay Packers at this point. They participate in actual Free Agency once every Ice Age … though they have been seen this week talking with Chris Canty, and there’s been talk they may actually reach out to Cullen Jenkins. We’ll see about that.

Will Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson bring his team into the fray that is Free Agency?

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

And yesterday’s news that Steven Jackson would like the fit in Green Bay is exciting, but until we see the whites of his eyes, that’s a pipe dream at this time, too.

Anyway, should there be any movement on any of those players, we’ll be on it (remember, the Packers can sign any of those three players because they were either cut or voided their current contracts).

So be sure to stop on back …