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Tampering feels like one of those NFL rules that gets brought up only in extreme circumstances.
You hear teams and players connected to one another all the time prior to the start of free agency, and it’s never a big surprise when such hypothetical connections then actually happen.
Years ago, the then-Washington Redskins were rumored to be in the mix for overhyped defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth prior to the start of free agency.
The “tampering” phrase came up over and over. Though nothing ever happened, it did seem a bit odd that the Redskins signed Haynesworth to a seven-year, $100 million contract mere hours after free agency kicked off.
Now we have what looks to be a blatant case of tampering, as Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden seemed to throw caution to the wind on Cris Collinsworth’s Podcast featuring cornerback Richard Sherman.
According to PFT, the Raiders coach became unhinged in speaking about Sherman and trying getting him to come to Sin City to play for the silver and black.
“Richard Sherman, if you are a free agent, which there is a rumor you are, we are looking for an alpha presence in our secondary. Somebody that could play this Hawk three-press technique with the read step. If you’re available and interested, maybe you and I can get together at some point off air.”
Sherman responded: “There’s a conversation to be had, for sure. I am free and available these days.”
To say what Gruden and Sherman did was tampering is an understatement. Pro Football Talk wrote that an unnamed general manager even called it “blatant tampering.”
Sherman is set to be a free agent come March 17th, and at that time, he will be free to ink with another team. But until then, the only team that truly can speak about signing him is his current team, the 49ers.
If anything, Gruden probably just racked himself up a pretty hefty fine. He has certainly written a check to the NFL for speaking out of turn before. Gruden himself admits: “I’ve been fined. I’ve been punished very, very harshly.” So if the league wants to push the issue, another personal check from Gruden might be coming the league’s way, this time for his comments about Sherman.