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Gentlemen, start your engines: NFL Free Agent negotiating period starts today

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Though actual Free Agency won't start until Wednesday, the next 48 hours, most of the top free agents on the market will find a home.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Free Agent negotiating period, aka the 'legal tampering period' begins today at 9am Pacific (Noon Eastern). That is when teams may begin contacting agents of prospective players to see if they can reach a deal to sign them. This time period also is when players can get an idea of their market value, which will inevitably lead to some of them coming to terms to re-sign with their current club.

This year's negotiating period is a day shorter than it was last year. It was three days before, and now it's just two. In some ways this is a good thing, because by that third day last year, most of the big names had already been reported as coming to terms at which point it was just a matter of waiting to make it official.

So, what actual can begin to take place when the clock strikes Noon Eastern? Here is what the memo sent to teams from the league offices said per Pro Football Talk.

"During the two-day negotiating period, all clubs may negotiate all aspects of an NFL Player Contract with the certified agent of any prospective UFA. However, a new club may not execute an NFL Player Contract with a prospective UFA until 4:00 p.m., New York time, on March 9, when the player's 2015 contract expires."

Until that time, no deals reached are binding. There aren't even supposed to be any travel arrangements made. That may seem silly, but it sure beats the way it used to be when teams and agents all just pretended they weren't talking and yet players would still somehow be signed to huge contracts within minutes of start of free agency.

The main difference now is they will just pretend the deals they reach are non-binding, even though pretty much the only thing that would derail them is a failed physical (Rodger Saffold, anyone?).

What it comes down to is, some serious business is going to start going down at 9am Pacific. Soon thereafter, the reports of teams being interested in particular players, inquiring about them, and coming to terms will begin to fly.

Official free agency starts Wednesday, but the action starts today.