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When does NFL 2023 free agency start?

With the NFL season now over, it’s time to focus on the league’s next big date, the start of that tumultuous time, free agency.

With the NFL season now over, it’s time to focus on the league’s next big date, the start of that tumultuous time, free agency.
Michael HickeyGetty Images

31 of the 32 teams in the NFL will likely already be focused on their offseason ambitions. From the NFL Draft which will provide them with a shot at grabbing the next best thing, to what we’re here to discuss which is the NFL Free Agency. Indeed, the free agent market is one that always brings with it the possibility of securing not just an established player, but a star. Let’s get into the details.

NFL Free agency and how it works

One of the key things to keep in mind, when it comes to NFL Free Agency is the term “tampering.” If we go with the dictionary definition, the word in simple form means to interfere with, or otherwise cause damage to something by means of unauthorized changes. This is particularly funny to note where free agency is concerned, because it is preceded by what the NFL refers to as a “legal tampering period.” To be clear, free agency always starts on the first day of the league’s new year. The aforementioned tampering period is set two days before that day, which means teams have 48-hours to negotiate with players and agents, before the league year starts. It’s definitely worth noting, that teams are prohibited from agreeing to terms with a player. Indeed, the penalty for doing so can be brutal, not limited to but including heavy fines and the stripping of draft picks. The dates for this year are as follows:

  • Legal tampering period: Monday, March 13
  • 2023 NFL free agency start date: Wednesday, March 15

What is actually allowed during “legal tampering period?”

As stated before, teams can only contact unrestricted free agents during the 48-hour window. Though agreements may be made in principle, no official announcement can be made until the period ends and free agency begins, in this case Wednesday, March 15th. Needless to say, the way in which contracts are typically announced almost immediately on the first day of free agency, would suggest that the opposite is par for the course. It’s interesting to note, that though players aren’t allowed to speak with teams directly until free agency starts, that rule only has significance if a player decides to represent themselves such as Ravens QB, Lamar Jackson. In contrast, players are permitted to speak with the team that they were previously signed with. Where restricted free agents and exclusive rights free agents are concerned, they’ve got to wait until Wednesday. Should a team try to contact them during the legal tampering period, that would almost certainly incur some kind of sanction from the league.

Who is in the 2023 NFL Free Agency market?

It would be fair to say, that this year’s free agency market isn’t loaded with stars, but on the other hand there is definitely good value out there, particularly at quarterback which is not normally the case. There’s Jimmy Garoppolo for starters, who would fit very well for any team who is in need but lacks top tier draft capital to negotiate for better. We’ve also got Jacoby Brissett, who performed credibly during the Deshaun Watson debacle. To be honest, were it not for a faulty defense, the Browns would likely have made the post season.

Then of course, we’ve got other positions in which there are definitely stars in the market. Where running backs are concerned, Josh Jacobs, Saquon Barkey, and Tony Pollard are all set to hit free agency, and one or more of those guys will certainly be receiving the franchise tag. Let’s not forget the likes of Jamaal Williams, Miles Sanders, and Jerick McKinnon who will also be in the market come Wednesday. Safeties you say? The 2023 class has actually got a few head turners including Jessie Bates, C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Jordan Poyer, and Julian Love. Yet, perhaps the best bang for the buck is in the defense department. From Robert Quinn, to Melvin Ingram, Kyle Van Noy and Justin Houston, all are players who won’t have a significant cap hit and can easily slot into a part-time role. Ultimately, we probably won’t see any big moves - though keep an eye on Aaron Rodgers - but we could see some significant ones.


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