Free agency is right around the corner. Soon rosters will be shaken about, money will be tossed around and fanbases will work themselves into a tizzy over their shiny new toys. But before players start signing on the dotted line, the NFL has a brief, two-day period in which players can shop themselves around before being able to officially sign with a new team. Here's a brief summary of the "legal tampering period."
When does the tampering period begin?
Teams are allowed to negotiate with agents starting on Monday, March 7 at noon ET. This window runs until the start of free agency, which begins at 4 p.m. ET on March 9.
What are teams allowed to do?
All franchises are allowed to negotiate with the agents of any player set to become a free agent at the start of the league year. This only applies to unrestricted free agents. All aspects of the contract can be negotiated on. However, teams cannot directly contact any player (other than their own), whether it be in person or over the phone. Teams also cannot announce nor agree upon a contract in principle, unless the it is one of their own free agents.
What if a player doesn't have an agent?
If a player does not have an agent, teams cannot negotiate with him until the start of free agency.
What happens if a team breaks these rules?
The legal tampering period is still relatively new in the NFL, and although the Dolphins were accused of breaking these rules with Ndamukong Suh's negotiations last year, no action was taken. However, in the past, other examples of tampering have resulted in a loss of draft picks.
Who are free agents this year?
You can see a complete list of players set to become free agents here.