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Chicago Bears Free Agency 2014: Negotiations with agents begin (Open Thread)

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Free Agency doesn't officially start until Tuesday at 4pm, but today, agents can start negotiating directly with teams. We take a look at what the Bears have already done with some of their own players, and who will be hitting the market.

Jonathan Daniel

There was a time in Chicagoland where not much was expected to come of Free Agency... Jerry Angelo drafted the players he wanted, and generally stayed out of the FA fray, with exception of his last couple years with the Bears. That could have been the McCaskeys loosening the purse strings a bit, or Angelo trying to save his own rear end, but either way, a new era is upon us, and we can expect some major activity in 2014.

Free Agency officially kicks off next Tuesday (March 11th) at 4:00pm ET, but today opens a three-day window where agents can start negotiating directly with teams and getting the ball rolling early. Previously, it was considered illegal tampering if a team had any types of dealings or negotiations with players or agents before Free Agency officially began, but last year they started a 'legal tampering' window that we are upon now.

From the NFL:

Q. What is permitted during the three-day negotiating period prior to the start of free agency?

A. Beginning at 12:00 noon ET on Saturday, March 8 and ending at 3:59:59 p.m. ET on Tuesday, March 11, clubs are permitted to contact, and enter into negotiations with, the certified agents of players who will become Unrestricted Free Agents upon the expiration of their 2013 player contracts at 4:00 p.m. ET on March 11. However, a contract cannot be executed with a new club until 4:00 p.m. ET on March 11.

During this negotiation period, a prospective unrestricted free agent cannot visit a club (other than the player's current club) at its permanent facility or at any other location, and no direct contact is permitted between the player and any employee or representative of a club (other than the player's current club). If a player is self-represented, clubs are prohibited from discussions with the player during the negotiating period.

Clubs (other than the player's current club) may not discuss or make any travel arrangements with prospective unrestricted free agent players, their certified agents, or anyone else associated with the player until the expiration of those players' 2013 Player Contracts at 4:00 p.m. ET on March 11.

The three-day negotiating period applies only to potential unrestricted free agents; it does not apply to players who are potential Exclusive Rights Players or Restricted Free Agents, or to players who have been designated as Franchise Players or Transition Players.

CHICAGO BEARS FREE AGENTS

So far this offseason, the Chicago Bears have been pretty active in re-signing some of their pending free agents:

- QB Jay Cutler (7-year contract)
- C Roberto Garza (1-year)
- C/G Taylor Boggs (1-year)
- G Matt Slauson (4-years)
- TE Dante Rosario (1-year)
- DT Jeremiah Ratliff (2-years)
- CB Tim Jennings (4 years)
- CB Kelvin Hayden (1-year)
- CB Derrick Martin (1-year)

Remaining Free Agents free to negotiate with other teams:

- CB Charles Tillman
- CB Zackary Bowman
- CB Sherrick McManis
- S Craig Steltz
- S Anthony Walters
- S Major Wright
- DT Henry Melton
- DT Landon Cohen
- DT Nate Collins
- DT/DE Corey Wootton
- LB D.J. Williams
- LB James Anderson
- LB Blake Costanzo
- LS Patrick Mannelly
- QB Josh McCown
- QB Jordan Palmer
- OT Eben Britton
- OT Jonathan Scott
- PR/KR Devin Hester

So today if the first day teams can start negotiating with agents of other teams' players... To whom do you think the Bears will talking?

Any predictions on which of the above-named free agents won't be back in Chicago next year?

For a great Chicago Bears Free Agency primer, check out Dan Durkin's article HERE.

This is your Saturday Legal Tampering Begins Open Thread... Have fun!