Lions face shorter negotiating period for free agents

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News
Ndamukong Suh

The Lions can legally start trying to woo free agents to Detroit beginning at noon Monday.

After some issues with the legal tampering period in 2015, including the Miami Dolphins’ pursuit of former Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, the league shortened the time teams could negotiate with agents of pending free agents from three days to two.

Free agency officially begins Wednesday at 4 p.m. at the start of the new league year. However, starting at noon Monday, the Lions and other teams can begin negotiating contracts for players who will become unrestricted free agents.

Pro Football Talk obtained a memo the NFL sent to team outlining the restrictions of the tampering period. In negotiations Monday, Tuesday and before 4 p.m. Wednesday, teams and agents can discuss all aspects of a contract, but any agreement is non-binding.

Reports: Lions pursuing George Iloka, J.R. Sweezy

Teams also cannot execute a contract or an agreement in principle, according to Pro Football Talk. In 2015, details of Suh’s contract with the Dolphins leaked during the tampering period, but the NFL determined there was no violation.

Teams also can’t make travel arrangements to bring a player to town for a visit, according to the report.  In past years, the Lions liked to bring in top free agents to see the facilities before signing, but it’s unclear if new general manager Bob Quinn will take the same approach.

Lions have work to do with free agents