The Chicago Bears' request to interview Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Tom Clements, as reported by multiple news outlets, necessitates a review of the NFL's complicated tampering rules for assistant coaches who are under contract.
Because the Bears want to discuss their head-coaching position, the Packers are required to grant permission for an interview. (In 2010, the Packers exercised their right to deny Clements permission to interview for the Bears' offensive coordinator job.)
But a review of the full policy makes clear the Packers can delay the interview until after their season is over. That could be next week or it could be next month if they make the Super Bowl. Below are the key clauses from the policy.
"If a club is interested in discussing its head-coaching position with an assistant coach whose playing season (excluding Pro Bowl) is over, and who is contractually obligated to another club, the assistant coach's employer club must permit the coach the opportunity to discuss, and possibly accept, such employment through March 1 of any year."
For teams in the playoffs, like the Packers, "the owner or operating head of the inquiring club may contact the owner or operating head of the employer club to request written permission to discuss its head coaching position with an assistant coach."
According to the reports, the Bears have done that. The NFL's policy puts the timing in the Packers' hands. The earliest the interview could occur is next week.
"If the employer club elects to grant permission to the inquiring club, the one (1) interview between the inquiring club and the assistant coach must be conducted at any location acceptable to the employer club and at a time that is convenient for the employer club. … For assistant coaches of clubs that participate in a Wild Card game and advance to the Divisional Playoffs, interviews must be conducted after the Wild Card games and prior to the conclusion of Divisional Playoff games."
The policy only allows second interviews to take place during the week between conference championships and the Super Bowl. So if the Packers win Sunday and delay Clements permission to interview next week, he would have to wait until after the season is over.
We'll pass along any news regarding timing that develops. Other names on the Bears' list include Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, Atlanta Falcons special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong and Dallas Cowboys special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis.