The League

Doug Farrar

Doug Farrar

A staff writer

Time to Change the Rules


A couple years ago, at the Scouting Combine, I was part of a press array interviewing Packers GM Ted Thompson. One reporter asked Thompson about Green Bay's rumored interest in Randy Moss (who, of course, wound up in New England). Thompson rolled his eyes in such a pronounced fashion you could practically hear it, and told the reporter, "I can't talk about that - he's not a free agent yet."

According to's Alex Marvez, Thompson's conscientious outlook would leave him in the minority. Marvez's recent article indicated that tampering is so widespread and blatant, it may be in the league's purview to avoid enforcement in favor of rules changes that would allow teams to enter into negotiations with the agents of players in a certain time period before free agency actually begins. The idea would be that teams that actually play by the rules wouldn't be at a competitive disadvantage, which would seem to make sense. Commissioner Roger Goodell used to talk about cracking down on tampering, but the idea seems to be more about a workable solution.

If this happens -- and I think it should -- the NFL should then come down hard on any team trying to operate outside of that window. If you have a seven-day window that gives every team an equal shot at the best and most desirable free agents, and a team tries to sneak in a day early, that team should get the same kind of fine/draft loss the Patriots received for the Spygate scandal. As it stands now, the system seems to almost encourage a skirting of the rules. And the punishment doesn't seem to fit the crime -- last year, when the 49ers were found to have contacted Lance Briggs' agent outside of the guidelines, the 49ers were penalized with the loss of a fifth-round pick.

If the league wants to get rid of tampering, two things must happen -- teams and agents need to be allowed to have more open lines of communication, and the penalties for taking advantage of those open lines must be more severe.

By Doug Farrar  |  May 26, 2009; 10:58 AM ET  | Category:  Doug Farrar , Free Agency , Washington Redskins Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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