The National Football League has sent letters to all 32 teams warning them to clamp down on leaks of contract details as free agency begins this afternoon.
On Monday NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said that the NFL will immediately look into “any potential violations of the rules.”
The letter also notes that the league is investigating several cases of leaks already. “At this time, the league office is beginning investigations into a number of reported agreements with clubs. Violations will be dealt with accordingly,” it reads.
The warning comes after news leaked of Ndamukong Suh’s negotiations with the Dolphins, Byron Maxwell and Frank Gore’s talks with the Eagles, and Jeremy Maclin’s discussion with the Chiefs. Ironically, Gore, whose contract with Philadelphia was said to be a done deal, now reportedly may want out before he ever officially got in.
The negotiating period for free agents began on Saturday and will end on Tuesday. But during that time contract offers are not to be made public or to be leaked beyond the team and the player being negotiated with. Players are also prohibited from telling teams what others are offering.
Teams are also not permitted to finalize offers until after the negotiating period is over.
The letter continues saying, “You are reminded that the purpose of the three-day negotiating period is to create a level playing field in the competition for Unrestricted Free Agents, by permitting clubs to express interest in a prospective UFA and to exchange information with certified agents regarding the level of compensation envisioned by the club and the agent,” the NFL wrote in the memo, according to the website. “Any attempt to undermine the purpose of this negotiating period may be considered conduct detrimental to the League.”
The whole discussion, though, has been a sticking point with some agents and players who say that the rules tend to stifle the negotiations.
Timothy Rapp of Bleacher Report summed up the problem perfectly on Monday.
“It seems rather odd to allow teams to negotiate for three days but not to reach any agreements, which is the endgame in any negotiation,” Rapp wrote. “It seems more logical for teams to either be allowed to negotiate during the period before free agency and reach unofficial agreements or to simply get rid of the negotiating period altogether. ”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org