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Draft King Analysis
March 9, 2015
Lou Pickney, DraftKing.com

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Tampering involving free agency in the NFL has been going on likely as long as the modern system began in 1993. But now, thanks to a three-day "legal tampering period" now allowed by the NFL before the start of free agency, it's obvious just how many deals are lined up well in advance of the official start.

Perhaps it's appropriate that details on the deal reached (but not yet officially signed) between Ndamukong Suh and the Miami Dolphins leaked over the weekend. Albert Haynesworth, the last free agent defensive tackle approaching Suh's level of talent to hit the open market, was blatantly tampered with by the Washington Redskins in 2009.

The NFL does not seem happy about the widespread reports of free agent signings with specific money amounts involved being leaked. But those deals clearly were going to happen and will continue to take place, though I'm hesitant to put any of those deals on the board as a lock since inevitably there will be double-crosses and last-minute changes.

Bill Barnwell wrote an excellent piece today explaining the financial reasons why Suh ended up being able to become an unrestricted free agent, in large part because of how massive those contracts got for top five picks in the final years before the new CBA was ratified in 2011. To point, 2010 #1 overall pick Sam Bradford received $50 million guaranteed from the Rams before ever playing a single down in the NFL.

If you want to keep track of the NFL free agent signings by position, I strongly recommend that you check out Rotoworld's list, which is a wonderful resource. One thing to keep in mind when you see the big-money numbers that what really matters is the guaranteed cash. Particularly for bloated, back-loaded deals, those later years quite often never see the light of day.

NFL.com's Gil Brandt says he knows who the Eagles hope to select with their first-round pick -- and it's not Oregon QB Marcus Mariota. Things in the NFL are always subject to change, of course, but that coupled with the Eagles signing Mark Sanchez to a new two-year deal suggests that the Eagles won't be making a mega-move up the draft board to snag Mariota.

In addition, the Houston Texans locking down Ryan Mallett with a new deal and signing Brian Hoyer (who was cut by Cleveland and thus able to sign before the start of free agency) would suggest they won't be making any moves at the quarterback position in the first round. It's looking like more and more of a possibility that the Jets could very well land Mariota at #6 overall.

What Oakland does over the next few days will likely provide some insight into the team's plans for the #4 overall pick. Trading down seems unlikely for reasons I outlined on here last week. DE/OLB (Edge rusher) and WR seem like the top two possibilities, particularly with Randall Cobb, a presumed likely Oakland target, surprisingly signing a new deal with the Packers.

Be prepared for wholesale NFL Draft projection changes, both here and on other sites, in the coming days and weeks. As teams fill needs with big-money free agent signings, they find others created as familiar favorites leave for paydays elsewhere. It's a time-honored tradition that has happened every year (except 2011) for the past 20+ years, and it will be no different this time around.

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