Tomorrow, free agency begins. That might not be the official time and date, but it begins nonetheless, because deals will be agreed to in principle that will be made official after 4 p.m. on Wednesday.
That period is known as legal tampering, where teams and agents can negotiate deals, haggle and hammer them out, and agree to them in principle before free agency actually opens. That means the Falcons, with all their cap space and desire to improve the roster, can and likely will work out at least a deal or two early this week, and that we’ll know about them.
Here’s what you need to know about legal tampering this year.
When is it?
Legal tampering kicks off at noon tomorrow, and will last until Wednesday, March 15 at 3:59 p.m. The official start of the new league year at 4 p.m. on March makes those deals official, assuming some don’t fall through.
You will, if past history is any indication, see deals announced faster than would seem physically possible given that the negotiation window is supposed to open at noon. That’s just part of the fun.
What is it?
Essentially, it’s an opportunity for teams to get deals done with impending free agents from other teams, at least those who aren’t franchise tagged. It’s a window to lock up your preferred free agent targets before they officially hit the open market, and it means the first wave of free agency moves at breakneck speed.
No deals can be signed until Wednesday at 4 p.m., but you will see deals reported very confidently over the next couple of days, and most of them will turn out to be true. It is worth noting that without a signing happening, players can still change their minds.
Will the Falcons be active?
For once, yes. I don’t know how the team will choose to allocate their dollars, but I feel confident there will be a couple of big names heading to Atlanta. Given how quickly the top players on the market are snapped up—sometimes unofficially well before the market opens—and given that the Falcons have to get better this offseason, you’ll get at least one plugged-in national reporter regurgitating an Atlanta-related agent text on Monday or Tuesday.
That’s something to be excited about, so stay tuned for what’s ahead.