Chiefs get good news with Dolphins cleared of tampering charges


The “legal tampering” stage of the NFL offseason has opened a relative Pandora’s Box when it comes to free agency. Essentially, it was more akin to decriminalizing an existing practice than it was introducing a new phase of negotiations. And NFL teams were quick to not only take advantage, but also push the limits of this new stage.

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Before free agency had even officially begun, Ndamukong Suh was a Miami Dolphins defensive tackle, Rodney Hudson was attached to the Oakland Raiders, Jeremy Maclin was with the Kansas City Chiefs, and various other players were announcing they had joined a new team. The announcements of these deals before official negotiations were even supposed to start caused the NFL league offices to launch investigations into each of these signings.

If the Dolphins signing Suh doesn’t violate the NFL tampering policy, it’s hard to see how the Chiefs signing of Maclin would. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The punishment for tampering has never been severe. The forfeiture of a late-round pick, or perhaps swapping picks as the Lions had to do with the Chiefs in 2010. The most recent example is the New York Jets, where owner Woody Johnson blatantly stated his intent to pursue Darrelle Revis who was still under contract with the New England Patriots. The Jets punishment? A $100k fine.

However, the Chiefs’ potential violation, as well as that of the Dolphins and Raiders, was significantly more egregious than that of the Jets because it involved the actual contract signing of a player who was, by all reports, still negotiating with his current team. So it stood to reason that Kansas City were likely facing a much stiffer penalty. And with the current DeflateGate situation, and other recent punishments handed down, the concern of facing a steep penalty  is always there.

That now seems far less likely as the NFL determined the Dolphins did not violate the NFL tampering rules. With the similarities between the Dolphins’ and Chiefs’ situations, it stands to reason that the same result will come for Kansas City. Helping matters may be the fact that none of the teams that lost a player have filed tampering charges. That makes sense, especially in the case of Maclin and the Chiefs, since the Philadelphia Eagles would likely face similar punishment for their early signing of corner Byron Maxwell.

So now Kansas City can sit back and wait. There is still some concern of course, but there should be a lot less now that the team that signed the biggest of these early contracts has been cleared.