We turn the heat up on our slow boil toward free agency as the NFL's negotiating window is now open ahead of the raging torrent that will come Tuesday.
The three-day negotiating period allows agents of players set to become free agents on March 10 to discuss the parameters of potential deals and gauge interests around the NFL.
The window was adopted in the fall of 2012 with the hope that it would stem the tampering occurring at the NFL Scouting Combine -- the side benefit of it creating more pre-free agency hype being a bonus.
The three-day preface has become colloquially known as the "legal tampering period," a phrase whose syntax is as logically ridiculous as "controlling one's own destiny."
No contract can be signed during the negotiating period. Teams aren't even technically allowed to make an offer, but rather must discuss only parameters of a potential deal. Prior to the first negotiating period in 2013, the NFL sent out a memo to teams threatening possible tampering investigations if they enter into agreements before the market opens.
Players aren't allowed to talk with or visit teams that aren't their own and no travel arrangements for a free agent's future visit can be made during the three-day period until their contracts officially expire.
The window has especially benefited players who return to their own teams. Given that the only franchise a player can re-sign with prior to the market doors opening is his own, franchises are often given a chance to beat a proposal from another club.
The smokescreens are also fierce during the three-day jaunt, with a plethora of whispers floated to media members as agents and teams jockey for position on potential signings.
Last year more than 20 deals were "agreed to" within 30 minutes of free agency beginning, with at least 10 signings dropping within five minutes. The furious pace likely had a lot to do with agents figuring out how to maneuver through the negotiating period.
Most of the hard news over this weekend will be of players re-signing with their current teams. But once the clock strikes 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday the real frenzy will begin.