NFL Free Agency: League Pushing to Create Its Own National Signing Day

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistFebruary 23, 2013

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and his staff are continuing to find ways to make the offseason more entertaining for fans.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and his staff are continuing to find ways to make the offseason more entertaining for fans.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

As the NFL continues to tinker with its offseason schedule as we approach the 2013 NFL free-agency period, the league appears to be drawing inspiration from the realm of college football to make the offseason more interesting for fans. 

According to ProFootballTalk, the NFL is planning to create a "signing day" for free agents in the same way high school students pick where they will play collegiate football:

As former Chiefs G.M. Scott Pioli said during Thursday’s edition of Pro Football Talk on NBC Sports Network, the NFL hopes to create a “signing day” for free agents, similar to the phenomenon that has arisen in recent years regarding the date in early February on which high school players pick their college destinations.

We’ve confirmed that the NFL has specifically proposed a “signing day” in communications with the NFLPA regarding a revised offseason calendar.  As Pioli explained, the new three-day legal tampering period is aimed at setting the stage for a one-day bonanza of announcements of new destinations for free agents.

The news should not come as a surprise. As Bleacher Report's very own Tyler Conway detailed, the league is proposing a new schedule that will push everything back. The NFL has not said it outright, but as ESPN's Adam Schefter pointed out, the new schedule hints at the league attempting to maximize television dollars. 

As is the norm on national signing day in the world of college football, high-profile recruits hold a press conference and pick from three hats to reveal where they will be playing college football. 

In principle, this already happens in the NFL, minus the television ad revenue the league would generate by holding a press conference. Most major signings are known beforehand thanks to the Internet, but they cannot be made "official" until free agency opens. 

To work around this, the suggested signing day proposal allows a "three-day legal tampering period" in order to have all high-profile free agents with a new home to announce on the same day. This could be an issue, as the NFL would be asking the free agents to potentially visit with multiple teams over the course of a three-day period before making a life-altering decision. 

The other problem with this idea is more simple: Results will still be known before the press conference.

Twitter easily beats the NFL with every pick throughout the draft. Then again, the NFL draft draws a jaw-dropping number of viewers each year anyway, which in turn results in a massive amount of revenue. 

The proposed signing day will be a big gainer for the NFL, even if the results are already known. Remember "The Decision" with LeBron James? Imagine last season if Peyton Manning had sat down at a table with three hats and then picked up a Denver Broncos cap. 

Fans will flock to the NFL's proposed version of a signing day. It is a flawed idea, but it's one that will take a step toward making the NFL offseason—which has already transformed the NFL into a 24/7/365 sport—that much more entertaining for fans. 


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