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2017 NFL free agency: Legal tampering begins for every team

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Expect the Falcons to be actively negotiating with their top targets.

NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

While the official start of free agency isn’t for a couple of days, teams can now begin negotiating with agents. They just can’t make a contract official until Thursday, March 9, when free agency does kick off.

You can expect the Falcons front office to be extremely active over the next couple of days, trying to land free agent targets like Terrell McClain and perhaps one of the market’s better veteran guards. You’ll hear names leaking out, and you’ll want to check out our free agent rumor tracker to keep up to date on them all.

For now, though, here’s a brief primer of what you’re looking at today.

What is legal tampering?

Starting at 12 p.m. today, teams will be able to negotiate directly with agents. Every year, the NFL sends a memo outlining the rules of this period, which some team usually manages to skirt regardless. The upshot is that teams get about 52 hours to furiously chat with agents and try to lock down free agents without officially locking them, and then they can make those signings official beginning at 4 p.m. on Thursday, March 4th.

Who will the Falcons be talking to?

Broadly, we don’t know, but we have a handful of clues.

First, the Falcons have been linked strongly to former Cowboys defensive tackle Terrell McClain, who would join the rotation on the interior in Atlanta. Secondly, they’ve been linked to the free agent guard market, though I think the top options will price themselves out of the team’s preferred range in short order.

Besides that, things are likely to follow a pretty predictable course for Atlanta, one where they’ll land a couple of rotational pieces, perhaps one starter, and a few interesting pieces of depth. Even with just six selections, their impact pickups are likely to come in this April’s draft.

Still, expect plenty of activity, starting today. We’ll be your guides.