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What is the 'legal tampering' period?

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Free agency officials kicks off at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday. But the courtship process can begin well before that under league rules.

Yes, we're talking about the so-called "legal tampering" period of free agency, or as the NFL officially refers to it, the negotiating period for prospective unrestricted free agents.

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The NFL tweaked this phase of the league calendar for 2016, cutting this negotiating period from three days to two. The period began at noon Monday and ends at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday. Additionally, the league has loosened restrictions on how teams and agents can negotiate during this period.

We thought it might be helpful to to offer up a refresher on the specifics of the "legal tampering period". We provide information straight from the source, specifically an internal memo obtained by NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport.

During the two-day period, all teams have the right to negotiate "all aspects of an NFL player contract" with the certified agent of an impending free agent. Figures can be exchanged on a deal, but nothing can be agreed to or announced before the start of free agency on Wednesday.

There are restrictions to this process. A free agent is not permitted to visit with a team other than their current team. Furthermore, a player cannot be in contact with a team that is not their own. Only the agent can communicate on the player's behalf during this period. If a player acts as his own agent, he's out of luck -- the NFL does not allow communication with another team before Wednesday.

In the memo, the NFL also reminds teams that breaking the rules of the negotiating period could be considered conduct detrimental to the league as well as a violation of the league's anti-tampering policy. Translation: Play by our rules or we're coming for your wallet and/or draft picks.

So while the big announcements won't come until Wednesday afternoon, consider the next two days the process of prepping the meal and setting the table before dinner is served.

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