By Paul Wanecski
On March 7th the NFL will official open the flood gates to rumor-mill central. Buffalo Bills incumbent quarterback Tyrod Taylor is only a few days away from learning his fate at One Bills Drive. With some seeing him as an impending free agent, would his agent be able to contact other teams to gauge interest? We have all heard that the Browns would have interest in Taylor if he were to become a free agent. So, Taylor’s agent can find out exactly what kind of dollars the Browns are willing to offer since we are about to get into the “legal tampering” phase, correct? I mean, the Bills sound like they want Taylor to renegotiate, so his agent should be able to find out what his market value really is, right?
The short answer is no.
Before we get too deep into that, I want to point out how smart it was to sign Taylor to an extension, specifically a team-owned option, if not only for the following reason; The Buffalo Bills can allow the major wave of free agency to happen all prior to determining if they will pick up Taylor’s extension. The league has instituted a “Legal Tampering” period which allows agents to talk with all other NFL teams two days prior to the actual start of free agency to (watch out, official NFL verbiage about to happen) “discuss the parameters of a potential contract” without offering an official deal. The catch is the player needs to be a free agent. The player is unable to visit or discuss anything personally, all communication goes solely through the player’s agent (as an example, players like recently released Russell Okung who represent themselves are unable to negotiate their own contracts during this time-period because the player is not allowed to be involved directly in the process, even if eligible). This legal tampering period is designed to field offers for all players who are free agents. Taylor is currently under contract with the Buffalo Bills until March 12th, he and his agent are not able to discuss a possible contract or value with any other team during the legal tampering period.
The impact that this has with Taylor directly is he and his agent are unable to know exactly what other teams would offer on the free agent market which would be important information since the Bills have asked Taylor to renegotiate his pending extension. If Taylor and his agent think that he would be able to fetch more on the open market, the Bills can hold him until 4 days after the free agent market officially opens. In total, simply by the Bills signing Taylor to an extension, it allowed the team to completely exclude Taylor from nearly the entire first week of free agency. Teams are far from patient in free agency, especially at the quarterback position.
The dates installed in Taylor’s contract are far from abnormal. Around the league, this is a pretty standard time table. While teams are able to discuss trades at any time with players under contract (which Taylor is), free agency is a completely different story. Basically the Bills can check in on potential trade targets like (for illustration purposes only) Tony Romo and AJ McCarron and even acquire them once the league year opens on March 9th, which is four days before the deadline on Taylor. They can negotiate and sign free agents like (seriously everyone, these are just examples and not a promotion of) Brian Hoyer and Mike Glennon, again, all prior to telling Taylor about what his future is with the team. It is obvious at this point that the Bills intend to wait until closer to the 4pm EST March 12th deadline to inform Taylor what logo will emblazon the side of his helmet in the 2017 season.