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And They’re Off: NFL’s legal tampering period has begun

NFL: Super Bowl LII-Commissioner Roger Goodell Press Conference Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

If you are reading this article, it means the NFL’s legal tampering period - the period prior to the official start of free agency on Wednesday at 4:00 PM New York time - has begun.

During the legal tampering period, teams may discuss terms and contract offers with the players who are scheduled to be free agents when the new league year starts on Wednesday. Only unrestricted free agents may be contacted by teams, as restricted free agents, such as Dion Jordan and Justin Coleman for the Seattle Seahawks, are off limits.

During the legal tampering period, terms of new contracts that have been agreed to will start to come out, but the contracts themselves cannot be executed until after 4:00 New York time on Wednesday. In addition, players may not make visits to teams during the legal tampering period, as that would be considered illegal tampering. Only agents may speak to teams that are not the current team of a player.

Bradley McDougald won’t hit the tampering period as a free agent, reportedly getting a new three-year pact with the Seahawks on Monday.

Now, I always found the league’s use of the phrase “New York time” interesting, since New York isn’t actually its own time zone as it obviously sits in the Eastern Time zone. Having asked a few people, the most logical explanation I have received is that since the league year starts on the second Wednesday of March and daylight savings time forces us to spring forward during the second weekend of March it complicates things. By complicates things, I mean the lawyers who want to be all fancy and put 4:00 Eastern Standard Time or 4:00 Eastern Daylight Time can’t put that because in some years the new league year starts during daylight savings time and some years it starts during standard time. As such, what do a bunch of egotistical New York lawyers do when they run into such an issue? They create their own time zone: New York Time. I have no idea about the true accuracy of this explanation, so take it for what it’s worth, but I found it amusing enough that I at least wanted to share it with you.

Now, while you and I anxiously await news on the departures of our favorite players and signings that will make us scratch our head, it appears as though some NFL players are also anxiously awaiting the start of the legal tampering period. Soon to be free agent wide receiver Paul Richardson tweeted the following earlier this morning (at least it was earlier this morning according to New York time, probably late yesterday Seattle time).

And Marcus Smith II tweeted the following on Sunday.

Those are just two of Seattle’s free agents who could potentially be moving on to a new team this offseason, and I’ll be here for most of the week to do my best keeping Field Gulls readers up to date on the ins and outs of the 2018 free agency fun.