New England managed to latch down on safety Devin McCourty late Sunday night after McCourty threatened to walk away with another offer from a different team (presumed to be either the Eagles or Jaguars). Luckily, Bill Belichick countered with an upsized offer to retain the defensive captain.
Of course, this scenario should never have taken place. McCourty should never have had an offer from another team. Saturday marked the opening of the "Legal Tampering" period, where agents are allowed to discuss their client's numbers with teams. This is supposed to be in order to gauge interest and to negotiate, but not make offers. Tom Curran wrote a scathing takedown of the entire process.
It turns out the league has taken notice. Per Yahoo Sports Rand Getlin, the NFL sent every team a letter to say that an investigation is underway to determine whether or not teams were agreeing to terms with clients, when the rules explicitly state not to.
It's really nice of the league to send a letter to notify teams of a concern with a potential broken rule. How thoughtful of them.
Ignoring the fact that the whole concept of "Legal Tampering" is completely asinine and is only used as a cover for when deals are struck two seconds after the actual opening of free agency, the league has a bigger issue on their hand.
Time and time again, teams have been caught actually tampering, and not during any sort of legal tampering purview. The Jets owner presented a textbook example of actual tampering and nothing is expected to happen. If the league can't clearly define and uphold the values and integrity that come with actual tampering, what's to strike fear into the hearts of teams during a Legal Tampering period?
The Dolphins are clearly in violation with their Ndamukong Suh contract. Byron Maxwell's agent had to make a full court press attack to state that his client hadn't yet signed a contract with the Eagles, even though he totally did and admit it on television.
The league knows exactly what's happening during the Legal Tampering period. The faux outrage associated with an investigation shows a clear blindness to the actual issue of how the entire rules process charade is so convoluted.
Thank goodness the Patriots haven't been connected with any free agent contracts, or maybe something actually would be done.