December 23, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson (39) runs the ball in for a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Legal Tampering: Day 1 analysis - with a Patriots' bent

Breaking News: Every free agent in the NFL is rumored to be coming to the New England Patriots.

That about covers it.

Rumor and speculation are all we’re allowed, though.  The NFL (No Fun while Legal tampering) issued a memorandum to all NFL teams on Friday that pretty much discouraged communications, subject to fines for violation, to the point that rumor and speculation is all there is:

PP-28-13

TO: General Managers Head Coaches Player Personnel Directors

FROM: Commissioner Goodell DATE: March 8, 2013

SUBJECT: Impermissible Activity During the Three-day Negotiating Period for Unrestricted Free Agents

Feb 3, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin (81) stiff arms San Francisco 49ers defensive back Chris Culliver (29) during the fourth quarter in Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Clubs were advised in PP-26-13 that during the three-day negotiating period for prospective Unrestricted Free Agents, they are permitted to contact, and enter into contract negotiations with, the certified agents of players who will become Unrestricted Free Agents upon the expiration of their 2012 Player Contracts at 4:00 p.m., New York time, on March 12, and that no contract can be executed with a new club until 4:00 p.m., New York time, on March 12.

Clubs are further advised that prior to the beginning of the new League Year it is impermissible for a club to enter into an agreement of any kind, express or implied, oral or written, or promises, undertakings, representations, commitments, inducements, assurances of intent or understandings of any kind concerning the terms or conditions of employment offered to, or to be offered to, any prospective Unrestricted Free Agent for inclusion in a Player Contract after the start of the new League Year.

Any announcement of an agreement or an agreement in principle by a club or another party, including, but not limited to, a certified agent, player, or media organization may subject the club to a tampering investigation.

Please contact the Player Personnel department if you have any questions

Indeed, contact the Player Personnel Department, and they’ll explain things to you in terms that even Mel Kiper understands:

This is like going to test drive cars in anticipation for purchasing one on Tuesday – except all you’re allowed to do is talk to the salesman, but nobody can know that you did, no one can see you do it and it’s probably best to not even mention what you were out doing when you get home.

And so much for Legal Tampering for the fans.  The teams are prohibited to say anything about anyone, so why even pay attention?

But stories leak, and never mind the reasons – maybe an agent leaks that a couple of teams are interested in his client, might make mention of numbers, making sure that the source understands his responsibility to the contact for complete discretion…

…or perhaps a person “with intimate knowledge” of a team’s personnel office generates some excitement on behalf of the team, something that may have a direct impact on solving a case of dark ambiguity on the part of a free agent of their own – you know, helping him make up his mind if he wants to play nice or kick rocks.

And speaking of kicking rocks, it appears that Anquan Boldin, the tough as nails, Venus ball trap of a receiver currently of the Baltimore Ravens is not going to accept the team’s offer to reduce his salary, which is bound to cause some hard feelings between he and the club.

Why?  He stated just a few weeks back that he was a Raven and always will be.  Said he would retire before playing for another team…and the Ravens are putting him in a position to have to put up or shut up – and since he’s going to be left with no choice, perhaps he’ll be looking to go to a team that could help him gain some measure of satisfaction for being backed into a corner.

Same thing is happening to Louis Delmas in Detroit, where the team is not offering what he was expecting for a cash-in contract, and are apparently planning on tracking some safety help through both free agency and in the draft – and Delmas is obviously unhappy about it, stopping just short of calling Lions’ management a ho.

“The Lions are cheating on me,” he said. “They’re going to the club every damn night and staying out late night, trying to come back home to Daddy.”

Sounds like his days in Motown are over.

The Dolphins must really think that Ryan Tannehill is something special, as somehow someone learned that they are Top Cat in regard to chasing wide receiver Mike Wallace, the same source citing anonymous reports that Miami is also interested in running back Rashard Mendenhall as a candidate to help replace the departing Reggie Bush.

Either the Dolphins are about to become Steelers’ South or someone’s agent is attempting to drive up the asking price of the hot commodity of the draft.

As for the Patriots, besides being the team most mentioned in rumors on Saturday, there has been not a peep out of Foxboro as they are knee deep in some dark intelligence gathering, both in regard to their own free agents as well as the players on their wish list.

Given the amount of gamesmanship occurring in the Wes Welker saga, it’s clearly not worth even speculating on at this point, but by 4:00pm on Tuesday afternoon we should have a pretty clear idea of what both parties intentions are, as well as the intentions of some select free agents from other teams.

Names like Adrian Wilson and Steven Jackson are intriguing to me, along with Delmas and Bolden and Asomugha – perhaps a few others.

There was a little push Saturday afternoon when a few teams signed some of their own free agents, and that will steadily build and reach a crescendo Monday night into Tuesday and in between now and then we have the rumor and speculation game to deal with – which can get a bit mundane so it was important for us to get out of the house today and enjoy just a nice day in New England to go for a walk and then watch the Bruins play…

…and, man, that Shawn Thornton is a tough bastard.  Maybe he’s linked to the Patriots…and why not?  Rumors and speculation can get as out of hand as the agents and teams need them to be…and didn’t I hear talk of the Patriots needing an enforcer in the secondary, anyway?

Tags: Baltimore Ravens Detroit Lions Miami Dolphins New England Patriots

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