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2011 NFL Lockout: Teams Contacting Undrafted Free Agents?

According to the folks at Pro Football Weekly, six NFL agents have told PFW that they have been in touch with NFL teams regarding undrafted free agents (tip of the cap to Silver & Black Pride for posting about this). since the end of the NFL Draft. This comes in spite of the NFL-imposed lockout, which prohibits any such discussions:

Of the six agents that PFW spoke to, three said that representatives of NFL clubs even used personal cell phones to contact the agents following the conclusion of last weekend's draft, as opposed to calling from team-issued lines where evidence of tampering might be easier to trace via phone records in any official NFL audit. Two more agents said that teams called players directly in a few cases.

"It was almost like a normal year in terms of contact, a little less (phone contact) than normal maybe, only without the signed contracts at the end," one of the agents said.

There was a Columbia Tribune article following the draft in which undrafted Missouri center Tim Barnes indicated he had received a phone call after the draft by the Ravens and had also been in touch with the Dolphins and Bengals. There is no indication whether the Dolphins and Bengals contacted Barnes after the draft.

The last week we've been discussing the lockout issues related to Coach Harbaugh and his staff contacting the current 49ers. We haven't really addressed the whole issue of teams contacting undrafted free agents in spite of the supposed ban on such contacts. Given the NFL's handling of past illegal contact issues, I'd imagine if the 49ers were busted for this the league would lay down the hammer.

As it currently stands, the whole situation is quite the cluster-[site decorum]. The league is in an unprecedented legal and labor situation and it can't be easy for the league to monitor all the tampering that could be going down. I have to think coaches have been working out ways to contact players and maneuver themselves around the prohibitions in place.

This instance of contacting undrafted free agents is different from normal tampering issues and as PFW put it, this is simply one more "procedural oddity" created by the NFL Lockout.