A 2016 rule change, the pandemic, and a lower salary cap made for a tumultuous opening to the NFL’s free agency period, and one coach hates it.
“That was awful, and I don’t believe it should be that way,” said Jacksonville Jaguars coach Urban Meyer, referencing a rule that allows players and teams to negotiate two days before the start of the new league season. “Not when you’re making organizational decisions. I’m not sure how that rule came about, but to me that’s not good business.”
The rule that allows for a two-day “legal tampering period” dates back to 2016, but changing it would likely not improve the issue Meyer spoke to, which is that there is no time to get to know a player before signing them.
Players and teams are not permitted to negotiate until the tampering period starts, but the speed with which some deals come together raises questions of whether everyone is being true to the rule.
The chaos this year was compounded by revenue losses from the pandemic, which lowered the league salary cap to $182.5 million, and pandemic-related restrictions that forced teams to rely on neutral doctors rather than team doctors to evaluate players.
This year especially, NFL front offices are making team-defining decisions in the dark.