The folly of the NFL was on full display Monday, as reported free agent signings lit up Twitter with an intensity not seen since last month's llama chase in Phoenix.
The problem, from the NFL's perspective: no deals between teams and outside free agents are permitted to be signed until Tuesday. The league was so mad about detailed information leaking out on Ndamukong Suh and other high-profile free agents that it sent a strongly worded memo to teams warning them to be quiet.
"The memo makes clear that we will look into any potential violations of the rules," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello was quoted as saying Monday.
The problem, though, from a realistic person's perspective: The NFL asking is asking the impossible by trying to keep dozens of secrets in an era where keeping even one secret is rare.
Saturday was the start of a confusing, unnecessary three-day window during which teams are allowed to — per an NFL memo obtained by Pro Football Talk — "express interest in a prospective UFA and to exchange information with certified agents regarding the level of compensation envisioned by the club and the agent."
But they're not allowed to really get deals done during that time, which is absurd.
This is akin to a middle-schooler passing a note (do kids still do that? Maybe sending a text?) to a crush with the simple instructions: Do you like me, check yes or no … and then having the crush respond "YES!" … and then having to mutually agree that for three days they won't tell anyone because even though they could talk about whether they liked each other, they really couldn't TALK about it.
As agent Blake Baratz tweeted Monday, "Isn't discussing parameters the definition of a negotiation? Just change the rule NFL, this is getting petty and a tad annoying."
Yes. It is. Let's skip the nonsense. If free agency starts at 3 p.m. Tuesday, then it should really start at 3 p.m. Tuesday. Make it illegal for teams and outside free agents to have contact before then, and then have a real frenzy when the clock starts.
As it stands now, nothing is a secret. Multiple outlets have reported dozens of very official and specific free agent contract details that go well beyond "expressing interest" and "exchanging information."
Too many people have a vested interest in getting information out there to reasonably expect that agents, players and teams won't bend the rules into all sorts of shapes — and that plugged in reporters won't feed that information to hungry fans.