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2016 NFL free agency: What is legal tampering?

What the heck is the "legal tampering period" and what are the Jaguars doing about it?

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The 2016 NFL free agency period is upon us and starting at 12pm EST, the Jacksonville Jaguars can enter into "legal tampering" and with it (behind the scenes and perhaps unreportedly) a flurry of activity that will begin to shape the rosters of all 32 teams heading into the NFL Draft.

So, what is the "legal tampering period" and what can teams actually do between now and 4pm EST on Wednesday when signings can become official?

According to the NFL Calendar, here's what begins today with the "legal tampering" window:

"Beginning at 12 noon, New York time, clubs are permitted to contact, and enter into contract negotiations with the certified agents of players who will become Unrestricted Free Agents upon the expiration of their 2015 player contracts at 4:00 p.m., New York time, on March 9. However, a contract cannot be executed with a new club until 4:00 p.m., New York time, on March 9."

So the key here is that only unrestricted free agents are available for tampering. According to a memo obtained by Pro Football Talk:

"Teams cannot execute an NFL contract, execute an agreement in principle or other similar document, announce that an agreement in principle or other similar agreement has been reached, or reach agreement on any undisclosed terms. Also, teams cannot make travel arrangements with a prospective free agent before the launch of free agency, at 4:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday."

So what can they do? Talk to agents. And while the two sides can't reach an agreement in principle that can be documented, there's nothing really stopping a verbal agreement from being reached between a team and a player's agent.

This only applies to teams under a contract that expires on Wednesday, not to players who have been released outright like Chris Long, James Laurinaitis, Mario Williams, and Jared Cook who were all released last month or those who voided their contracts like Alex Mack.