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A Tampering Primer

With the NFL investigating whether the Redskins violated anti-tampering rules during their courtship of free agent defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, it makes sense to provide a little primer on the process, I suppose.

Tampering charges usually are alleged by one team against another, and while the Tennessee Titans, Haynesworth's former employer, went to some lengths a few weeks back to state they had not formally filed tampering charges against the Skins, the reality was that when they turned over what they believed to be evidence of tampering to the NFL offices, they got the ball rolling.

They had in essence asked the NFL to investigate the incident, and that is what is occurring now. The standard of proof is high -- it's hard to prove what was said between a team and an agent about a specific client before the start of free agency -- but not impossible to meet. A year ago the San Francisco 49ers were stripped of a fifth-round pick for tampering with Chicago linebacker Lance Briggs .... and Briggs never signed with San Fran, staying with the Bears.

(A team need not, however, file a charge of tampering. In the aftermath of the Spygate cheating scandal, the NFL reduced the standard of proof needed for Commissioner Roger Goodell to discipline any team and that includes tampering matters. In addition, the NFL reserves the right to investigate any case in which it suspects wrongdoing without a team having to make a charge.)

Much will be made about the dinner between Redskins team officials and Chad Speck, Haynesworth's agent, at the NFL combine, well before the official start of free agency. But it's not like there are transcripts of that meeting floating around. Haynesworth is likely to talk to the NFL this week, as Jason Reid reported over the weekend, but I would imagine everyone will choose his words very carefully.

In this case the league will surely interview Haynesworth, Speck, owner Daniel Snyder, vice president Vinny Cerrato, and perhaps other Skins coaches and front-office personnel. They will also go back to the evidence the Titans provided, much of which would seem to be have somewhat circumstantial, and perhaps interview team officials there as well.

Many factors -- such as the speed with which the Redskins and Speck completed a record-breaking, $100-million deal mere hours into the official start of free agency -- will be weighed, but, again, if that is the only criteria, then you could consider most of the big deals ever signed on the first night of free agency to be cases of tampering. And in most cases that's probably the case. Tampering is the worst-kept secret in the league. There's usually something of a gentleman's agreement in place to look the other way, but Titans Coach Jeff Fisher is the head of the competition committee, and obviously Haynesworth's departure did not sit well with his organization. With so many stories linking Haynesworth to the Redskins hitting newspapers and the Internet in the weeks leading up to free agency, and some suggesting a deal was already in place, this thing became very high profile.

The league will conduct a discreet investigation; there will be no comments and no updates. Teams can be fined in addition to the loss of a draft pick, but there is no timetable for a decision.

What happens when the NFL reaches a decision on a tampering case? If the NFL decides the evidence is insufficient, it may never even acknowledge an investigation took place, if history is a guide. If discipline is taken, Commissioner Roger Goodell will release a statement. In the end it will be his call and, it may well be one of the last on tampering.

NFL owners are considering a proposal that would alter the landscape around free agency. As Mark Maske reported from the recent owners' meetings, they may vote in the fall on a proposal that would create a two-day window during which players eligible for free agency could negotiate with all teams.

By Jason La Canfora  |  May 26, 2009; 10:13 AM ET
 
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Next: Why a Vick/Skins Marriage Seems Unlikely

Comments

So, next year's draft pick basically depends on Goodell's mood when the evidence is presented.

Posted by: Original_etrod | May 26, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

ok... thanks?

Posted by: moosepod | May 26, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

You wanted a story? Something football related to talk about? 'Skins news?

Well, here you freakin' have it. Get ready for this to be THE story for the 'skins this offseason, and top 5 for the NFL offseason, behind: Vick, Favre, annual reemergence of the Cowboys, the expectations and predictions of disciples of Belichick (Pioli, McDaniels, and Mangini).

Waaaaaaaaow.

Posted by: RedDMV | May 26, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Goodell will 'slap' the skins on the wrist by taking away a low round draft pick only in the interest of putting fear into the minds of the leagues other teams.

The titans are only doing what any smart team would do: they weren't going to re-sign Haynesworth at the contract amount the skins did, but they figured, "Hey, let's see if there's a draft pick to be had out of this situation."

And they'll get one.

Posted by: MistaMoe | May 26, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

The titans are only doing what any smart team would do: they weren't going to re-sign Haynesworth at the contract amount the skins did, but they figured, "Hey, let's see if there's a draft pick to be had out of this situation."

And they'll get one.

Posted by: MistaMoe | May 26, 2009 12:50 PM

I don't think that's how it works, Moe. In this case the Skins loss is the Skins loss, not the Titans gain. When the 49'ers lost a pick, they just lost it -- the Bears got nothing.

That's what's so vindictive about the tampering charge -- it's only about peeing on another team, not about making your team better.

Posted by: talent_evaluator | May 26, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Yawn.. Does the Post have any Redskins news?

Posted by: siris | May 26, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

You wanted a story? Something football related to talk about? 'Skins news?

Posted by: RedDMV | May 26, 2009 12:36 PM

Now where did all the little knaves go who were whinin' about Jasno being on vacation? Dude pops in with this fresh item and are they up here with hats in hands, thankin' and apologizin'? Nope. Crawled back under their rocks waiting a few days to say "Where's my non-news news that's not a poll, you lazy old d-bag?"

Posted by: talent_evaluator | May 26, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Was this really an unbiased "tampering primer" or yet another shameful cheap shot at the Redskins organization?

I suppose this agent has no relationship with any other Redskins players, and the huge contract offered to Haynesworth, whether it be 2 mins or 2 weeks after the start of FA, had nothing to do with his signing.

Posted by: SirAnonymoustheGreat | May 26, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

(A team need not, however, file a charge of tampering. In the aftermath of the Spygate cheating scandal, the NFL reduced the standard of proof needed for Commissioner Roger Goodell to discipline any team and that includes tampering matters. In addition, the NFL reserves the right to investigate any case in which it suspects wrongdoing without a team having to make a charge.)

So when you called the league to inquire weather Vinnie Cerrato was tampering while discussing another teams player on his radio show,you weren't trying to get the ball rolling like the titans have done?

And it was a load of crap when yourself and the post made the statement(that you just contradicted by the way)that the only way a team can be "charged"with tampering is if another team formally made a charge?

Posted by: jumbo5383 | May 26, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Goodell will 'slap' the skins on the wrist by taking away a low round draft pick only in the interest of putting fear into the minds of the leagues other teams.

Posted by: MistaMoe | May 26, 2009 12:50 PM

Fear would only be put into other teams. The likely alleged tamperer on the part of the Skins doesn't really place premium value on draft picks. If the league did find that tampering occurred, then to get through to The Owner, the league would have to prohibit the Skins from signing any former Pro Bowlers with over 7 years of experience, at least for a couple of seasons. THAT would leave a mark.

Posted by: dcsween | May 26, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Just to get a feel for what's at stake ...our 5th round draft picks since 1995

Dallas Sartz
Anthony Montgomery
Robert McCune
Mark Wilson
Andre Lott
Robert Royal
Darnerien McCants
Quincy Sanders
Derek Smith
Mark Fischer
Jamel Williams
Keith Thibodeaux
Twan Russell
BradBadger Leomont Evans
Jamie Asher
Rich Owens

In other words, there's roughly a 1/3 chance that a 5th round pick will turn into a modest contributor

Posted by: zcezcest1 | May 26, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

beep beep

Posted by: dcsween | May 26, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

If the evidence is nothing more than the meetings between Snyder and Haynesworths agent then this will never amount to anything. There is absolutely no way to prove they were talking about Haynesworth not Kelly. You can't penalize based on your gut feeling. That would set an absurd precedent.

Posted by: blackandred777 | May 26, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Whats funny about this is Tennesse had all of last year to sign him and didnt and couldnt do it. Now that someone else has signed them their mad. Its some BS, if they wanted him that bad they shoulda did whatever they had to do to keep him

Posted by: redskinsfan4305 | May 26, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

If the penalty for tampering is a draft pick - that's okay, most of the Skins draft selections are no good & don't pan out anyway. If the penalty is a fine - that's okay too, Synder has money and it doesn't affect the Cap status. So, really, there is no consequence to tampering that should affect the Skins ability to miss the playoffs this year, fire the coach, and make a big splash by hiring a big-name coach.

Posted by: agupta1 | May 26, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

"Teams can be fined in addition to the loss of a draft pick, but there is no timetable for a decision."

Again, big whoop.

The Redskins always trade thier picks away and Snyder has more cash then everyone on this blog.

It's a big fat waste of time to me and a whole lot of sour grapes from Tennesee. Fisher is an a$$ anyway.

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | May 26, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

So the Redskins will lose a draft pick if it is proven that we tampered? Who cares! The Redskins usually don't even keep their picks! If you really want to hurt Dan Snyder than you tell him he cannot fire a coach for the next two years.

Posted by: authorofpoetry | May 26, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

If teams were caught and had to give up 1st rounders, then maybe teams would stop tampering, but a 5th rounder......please!

Posted by: ENJOYA | May 26, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

hurry up and trade next year's 1st and 3rd rounders for Anquan.

Posted by: coparker5 | May 26, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

The Lakers was smoked by the Melo-less Nuggz! Geeseth. Who would have thought that they could suck so bad.

Posted by: AntonChigurh | May 26, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

WHO CARES?
The NFL needs to cut it out.
Just like every company in this country faking like it has integrity.
It ALL ABOUT THE MONEY.
Yea you can be a CEO or OILMAN steal the country blind but don't kill dogs we will hang you! lol Ask Vick!
NOW MORE REDSKINS NEW!

Posted by: shamken | May 26, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

As JLC points out rather even handedly, the type of discussions the Redskins had with Haynesworth's agent Speck are pretty typical before a top player hits the FA market. Unlike other teams who are little more discreet like Philly and NY, Snyder likes to maintain a high profile and wine & dine his prospective FA's. The pursuit of Haynesworth isn't much different than when there were deals in place Randle-El and Archueleta within hours of the FA market opening a few years ago. The difference is that those team didn't care about losing their players as FA's, while Tennessee was still trying to re-sign Haynesworth.

Posted by: wizfan89 | May 26, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

first of all, we weren't the only team bidding for AH services. there were several other teams as well but it came down to us and TB offering almost the same money. so if TB had won the bidding war then would Tenn go after them for tampering? i don't think so. Tenn is just trying to put on a show to justify to their fans as to why AH wasn't signed.

Posted by: goodtogo28 | May 26, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Please, Mr Goodell - take away the Redskins 1st round draft picks in 2010 and 2011.

Too bad, Danny Snyder.

Posted by: hclark1 | May 26, 2009 7:18 PM | Report abuse

This is very good!
http://www.nowgoal.com/22.shtml

Posted by: suesue8709 | May 28, 2009 5:29 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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