Since the NFL lockout went back into effect during the league’s three-day draft, teams have been prevented from signing undrafted free agents, as usual.
Apparently, that hasn’t stopped some teams from contacting these players and their agents anyway. Not only is it another sign that the owners are the only ones who believe in the lockout, but any contact by a team official and an undrafted free agent or his agent, if proven, will result in tampering and be subject to discipline from the league office.
Typically, the penalty would be the loss of a draft pick and/or a fine.
Of the six agents that PFW spoke to, three said that representatives of NFL clubs even used personal cell phones to contact the agents following the conclusion of last weekend’s draft, as opposed to calling from team-issued lines where evidence of tampering might be easier to trace via phone records in any official NFL audit. Two more agents said that teams called players directly in a few cases.
“It was almost like a normal year in terms of contact, a little less (phone contact) than normal maybe, only without the signed contracts at the end,” one of the agents said.
The NFL has always had a hard time proving tampering and it’s certainly not surprising it’s happening in this case. Most teams are looking for any advantage they can gain at the moment — as soon as the lockout is lifted again, there’s going to be a free-for-all with everyone trying to sign the top undrafted players.
The Green Bay Packers were not mentioned among the teams contacting players, and we’d be surprised if [intlink id=”20″ type=”category”]Ted Thompson[/intlink] isn’t doing things by the letter of the law.
The [intlink id=”343″ type=”category”]Baltimore Ravens[/intlink], [intlink id=”86″ type=”category”]Cincinnati Bengals[/intlink] and Miami Dolphins were named as teams contacting undrafted players in a report, but team representatives have either denied it or been unresponsive to inquiries.