On Monday, the NFL sent a memo to all teams saying they will be launching an investigation into whether or not teams and free agents agreed to deals before they should have. The league has reached out to a couple of teams and has requested to see their phone records to try and determine if there was a violation.
There were a number of reported deals on Monday, before anything could be set in stone and agreed upon. While the league has a right to be annoyed by this, it is a little confusing, seeing as they created this problem.
What makes this so absurd is that it’s the league’s fault for giving the teams a “legal tampering” period to begin with.
In a memo sent to teams last season, the league wanted this three-day period before the start of the new league year to be used strictly to gauge interest. The problem with that is, it’s hard to properly gauge someone’s interest when money is ultimately the deciding factor.
One of the biggest deals announced was with the Miami Dolphins and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Suh even came out at his press conference and said that the money was a factor in his decision. It just so happens the Dolphins are one of the teams the league will be going hard after.
If there is a team that feels that they lost out on one of their free agents because there was a deal in place before the start of free agency, then that’s their fault.
Another aspect of this investigation that hasn’t been answered yet is how long it would take to complete. The league still has a couple of investigations that are supposedly ongoing and have been for months.
People are still waiting to see what, if anything, is coming from Deflate-gate (yeah, remember how big that was?) and the subsequent problems with the Cleveland Browns with improper texts to the sideline and the Atlanta Falcons with artificial crowd noise.
At the end of the day, what will happen to a team if they are found to have broken this policy? Will they just void the contracts and let the players return to free agency. That would be a marketing nightmare considering there are already Ndamukong Suh Miami Dolphins and Jeremy Maclin Kansas City Chiefs jerseys being made and sold online.
If the players are released, would the league stop them from signing with the same team for the same or a slightly modified deal? If the league voids some contracts, it would raise a lot more red flags. It would appear the league is trying to control where players end up in free agency.
Ultimately what this comes down to is the league wanting to generate the most talk about their sport year-round.
The NFL is by far the most profitable sports league in the history of North America and it could give some of the soccer leagues a run for their money. Don’t put it past the NFL to be secretly glad these deals were announced, because it certainly made the sporting world stop and look at the league for a day or two.