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Monday, May 25, 2009
League investigating Redskins tampering charge

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

The NFL has officially launched an investigation into charges by the Titans that the Washington Redskins tampered with defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth before the free agency period began in February, according to a Yahoo! Sports report. The Washington Post has since reported that the league will interview Haynesworth as early as this week.

In most cases, tampering charges don't go anywhere. Teams aren't supposed to have contact with players (and their agents) until midnight ET at the outset of free agency, but deals always start rolling in about 45 minutes later. In reality, the league knows that teams and agents have been skirting the rules for years, and that's why owners are considering a proposal to allow a two-day window of negotiations leading up to the start of free agency. For the most part, the league hasn't been able to enforce tampering rules, although the 49ers did lose a fifth-round pick last year because of premature conversations with Lance Briggs' agent, Drew Rosenhaus.

There's a line in this ESPN.com story that says the Redskins interfered with the Titans' ability to re-sign Haynesworth following the '08 season. Really? I never sensed the Titans were moving mountains to re-sign Haynesworth. In fact, they had exclusive negotiating rights for years -- and they didn't get a long-term deal done.

Sure, there's a chance the Redskins tampered with Haynesworth. But it's hard to have a lot of sympathy for the Titans. In the aftermath of the Patriots scandal, the league implemented new rules to crack down on cheating. Unfortunately, it's still hard to come up with the evidence needed to nail teams for tampering. And that's why this two-day window would be a decent place to start with restoring some sense of fairness to the free-agency process.