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NFL threatens teams: No agreements until free agency starts

The NFL sent teams a new communication Friday that has threatened potential tampering investigations should teams enter into an agreement with a free agent of any sort prior to the start of the league year on Tuesday.

For the first time the NFL opened a negotiating window, beginning at midnight, where teams could negotiate with free agents from other teams, but not bring them in for a visit or speak directly to the player. With this window unprecedented, agents and teams were unsure how quickly deals might be, in essence, agreed to quickly.

This memo seems intent on putting a chill on any of that -- and makes explicit that even agreeing in principle to a contract that would be contingent on a physical next week would be prohibited. It came as a surprise to many execs and agents and has created quite a stir as to how to proceed with contact.

It's also struck many as odd, given that the creation of this negotiating window seemed designed to curtail tampering and create a climate where deals could be effectively struck but not fully consummated.

Here's the full memo:

PP-28-13
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


Before joining CBS Sports, Jason La Canfora was the Washington Redskins beat writer for The Washington Post for six years and served as NFL Network's insider. The Baltimore native can be seen every Sunday during the season on The NFL Today.
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