Around the NFC West: Free agency run-up

Those following along recently should know NFL free agency begins March 12, which is Tuesday of next week.

Around the NFC West: March 7, 2013

The process gets a running start after midnight Friday. That is when rules allow teams to begin negotiating with projected free agents around the league. There can be no signings until free agency begins. Free agents cannot meet with teams for physical examinations or any other purpose. But if an agent wants to shop deals around the league, this window provides that opportunity.

I'm not sure how the three-day window is going to change things from this end. The flow of information -- and misinformation -- could increase as teams and agents seek leverage. We could hear about players and teams reaching agreements in principle, pending passage of a physical examination.

Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland, speaking to reporters at the NFL scouting combine last month, predicted relative quiet during the initial stages of the negotiating window. Perhaps that is what he's hoping for.

"I don't know that there's going to be a lot done in that 24 hours of that time period," Ireland said. "That's just a guess, but some of the bulk of what we can get done needs to happen before that time. That three-day window, it's obviously going to be competitive because of that openness in negotiating. Exactly how it's going to change things, I'm not exactly sure."

Ireland used the word "sketchy" to describe the idea that an agent could have a couple of days to shop offers. While the window could contribute to a more frenzied atmosphere when the signing period begins, it also could give teams a chance to reconsider the wisdom of overpaying for veteran players.