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2013 NFL Free Agency: Ready, set ... negotiate

The three-day free agency 'tampering window' begins on Saturday. Here is how that works.

Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

NFL free agency does not begin in earnest until March 12th. Beginning Saturday, however, teams can begin negotiating with free agents from other teams. This "tampering window" was approved by the NFL last fall. Essentially, it sanctions contact between teams, players and agents that likely was taking place illicitly, anyway.

Seriously, you don't think those deals that seemingly happen within minutes of the free agency period opening happen that quickly, do you?

Here is exactly what is and is not permitted during the tampering window:

  • Beginning at midnight ET on Saturday, March 9 and ending at 3:59:59 p.m. ET on Tuesday, March 12, clubs are permitted to contact, and enter into negotiations with, the agents of players who will become unrestricted free agents upon the expiration of their 2012 player contracts at 4 p.m. ET on March 12. However, a contract cannot be executed with a new club until 4 p.m. ET on March 12.
  • During this negotiation period, a prospective unrestricted free agent cannot visit a club (other than the player's current club) at its permanent facility or at any other location, and no direct contact is permitted between the player and any employee or representative of a club (other than the player's current club). If a player is self-represented, clubs are prohibited from discussions with the player during the negotiating period.
  • Clubs (other than the player's current club) may not discuss or make any travel arrangements with prospective unrestricted free agent players, their certified agents, or anyone else associated with the player until the expiration of those players' 2012 player contracts at 4 p.m. ET on March 12.
  • The three-day negotiating period applies only to potential unrestricted free agents; it does not apply to players who are potential xxclusive rights players or restricted free agents, or to players who have been designated as Franchise Players or Transition Players.

This has to give agents, teams and players a better chance to know exactly what the market -- and the probable price range -- is for a player once the signing period begins on March 12.

For fans? This gives you guys three more days of following Twitter -- and Big Blue View -- to find every possible rumor that might impact the Giants.

The Giants are currently more than $9 million under the $123M salary cap. Over the Cap estimates the Giants' rookie salary pool to be at least $4.6 million. The Giants also have to sign restricted free agents like Victor Cruz and Stevie Brown, so that still does not leave much wiggle room for expensive free-agent signings.