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The NFL Scouting Combine is essentially a soft launch for free agency

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It's not just about the NFL Draft prospects -- agents from around the league will have many opportunities to discuss their clients with NFL teams at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis next week.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The 2015 NFL Scouting Combine is just a few days away, which means we'll have an overload of information about over 300 top prospects for the 2015 NFL Draft. Opinions on these guys will be numerous and varied, but the combine isn't just a place for teams to get a look at these draft prospects. It's also a place where player agents flock to lock up new clients and have discussions with their existing clients.

And when there's NFL executives and player agents in one place, there's bound to be discussions between said executives and player agents. Coaches, general managers and everything in between inevitably meet and talk with agents, and talk certainly turns to players already in the league and their contracts.

This basically leads to two things: teams begin negotiations with their own free agents, and agents will try and get a feel for the interest in their players around the league. In a word, there's a kind of tampering going on, as free agency doesn't begin until next month. As pointed out by Fooch last year, there was a solid article at National Football Post from an agent who noted that the NFL Combine is sort of the "unofficial start of free agency."

As referenced in said article, agents want to "walk away from the combine with three or more top teams interested in his UFA(s) and have a good idea of what the market will be for his client."

Obviously, it's not a huge secret that this kind of thing happens. Tons of players sign big deals right as free agency opens, and it's unlikely many of those deals got done during the "official" tampering period three days before free agency gets underway. Executives and agents are going to talk no matter what, and agents are going to do everything they can to get the best contracts they can for their clients. None of this is a surprise.

As far as re-signing a team's own free agents are concerned, the 49ers actually dealt with this just last season. Prior to the combine, there were talks that the 49ers and Colin Kaepernick's agent would get discussions underway proper for a contract extension. Once he signed, it was once again noted that the two sides really got things going at the combine. So it definitely serves a purpose in that vein.