In some ways, today is actually the start of the NFL free agency period.
Though new contracts cannot become official until the start of the new league year, which is Thursday, March 9 at 4:00 p.m. ET, today the legal tampering period begins. That period begins at noon today, and it lasts until the start of the new league year.
During this period, teams and agents can negotiate contract numbers and things like that, but they cannot agree to actual deals or sign them. The players can’t visit teams, and it only applies to unrestricted free agents - so restricted free agents and exclusive rights free agents don’t get to take part in this legal tampering period. Basically, this is a time for teams and agents to negotiate deals without actually officially signing those deals. Because of this period, though, we’ll see a number of contracts signed right at or near 4:00 p.m. on Thursday.
This is a significant time for the Colts - and their own free agents. The Colts may get involved in this legal tampering period in pursuing some free agents that they’re interested in and even discussing some terms. This is perhaps most interesting from a Colts perspective in regards to their own free agents, however, as guys like Jack Doyle, Darius Butler, Erik Walden, and others will have the freedom to gauge the market better. Their agents can discuss numbers with other teams, and that would allow the players to have a better idea of their market value.
So, for instance, with a guy like Doyle, this could be valuable. The Colts and Doyle’s camp reportedly are in disagreement over what Doyle’s market value is, so perhaps this legal tampering period can give them both a better idea of what that value might be. If that’s the case, then perhaps there could be some level of compromise from one or both sides to get a new deal done after establishing a better market value. More often than not, however, once a player hits free agency he’s gone. So with the Colts having re-signed exactly zero free agents at the beginning of the legal tampering period, it will be very interesting to see how they progress through this period leading up to the official start of free agency.