POSTED 9:21 a.m. EST, March 10, 2006
BREES ALREADY SHOPPING HIMSELF
As the official start of free agency approaches, there's even more evidence to indicate that teams aren't paying much heed to the tampering rules, which prohibit contact of any kind -- including, you know, contract negotiations -- before the player hits the open market.
Jason Cole of The Miami Herald reports that the New Orleans Saints are the leading candidates
to land Chargers quarterback Drew Brees.
"The Saints, Dolphins and Detroit have reportedly been the strongest suitors to date," Cole writes, "but the Saints have guaranteed more money than the other two teams."
Though Cole doesn't comment on the significance of this news from a tampering standpoint, the report screams that Brees' agent, Tom Condon, has opened the bidding early on his client, lining up as many suitors as possible and then parsing through the deals.
As we understand the rules, there's no prohibition against an agent gauging the market for his client before his client actually hits the market. It's the teams that are violating the rules by responding to or initiating the inquiries.
So maybe the NFLPA should consider implementing a rule that makes it impermissible for agents to listen to or solicit offers for players who are still under contract with a team.
Of course, it's not like such a rule would change anything. Football types are an impatient bunch, and many are likely to justify not following the rules by presuming that, if they sit tight, others will beat them to the punch.
It reminds us of the NASCAR adage: "If you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin'."
As to the Saints, the acquisition of Brees likely means that they'll entertain offers to trade down in the draft, unless running back Reggie Bush is available at No. 2. If they could slide back to No. 4, where the Jets currently are perched, the Saints could nab a guy like left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson.