Legalized tampering window comes Saturday

Legalized tampering window comes Saturday
March 8, 2014, 11:00 am
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Legalized free agent tampering comes at noon on Saturday.
 
This negotiation window – flung open by the NFL after it tired of seeing teams sign players to complex contracts minutes after free agency began – runs from noon until the 2014 league year begins Tuesday at 4 p.m.
 
At that point, pen can be put to paper. Or however they do it.
 
These are the irons the Patriots currently have in the fire. Contract extension talks with Vince Wilfork to reduce his $11.6M cap number and retain his services after 2014. Conversation about a possible restructure with Logan Mankins to bring down his $10.5 million cap number. Negotiations with Julian Edelman and Aqib Talib, the two Patriots headed to free agency who’ll draw the most interest.
 
Expect the Patriots to cast a wide net with the free agent class, expressing interest, laying out parameters they are willing to work within and then allowing the players and their agents to decide if they want to talk further.
 
The Patriots aren’t in chase mode. Even though the start of free agency has a Black Friday feel (with few bargains to be had), there is no player they absolutely, positively have to persuade to join the team.
 
With the salary cap rising to $133M this year and the chance it could be pushing $150M in 2015, this is a fascinating time for players who hit the market.
 
Top-level players who signed deals in the past two years are going to be seeing inferior players get superior money. And teams are going to have to get their heads around making those bigger outlays while keeping an eye on the pay structure within their team so that a middling guy isn’t getting more than a superstar.
 
Practice this phrase between now and Tuesday. “They’re gonna pay him HOW MUCH??!!”