The Arizona Cardinals' hopes of re-signing starters like Calais Campbell and Tony Jefferson are fading, but by the time free agency opens on Thursday, March 9, the organization should have a strong idea of where exactly the team stands.
On Tuesday morning, the NFL's legal tampering window opened, which allows teams to speak with soon-to-be free agents and begin negotiating contracts with players' agents.
The NFL's legal tampering window was cut from three days to two this year, but there's still plenty of time for organizations to reach out to prospective free agents and determine their interest level based on prospective salaries.
Plenty of NFL teams are expected to be competing for the services of Campbell and Jefferson, who remain the two highest-profile free agents to be still on the Cardinals' roster after the team locked up pass-rusher Chandler Jones by placing the franchise tag on him last week.
It's possible both Campbell and Jefferson will command annual salaries upward of $8-$10 million for the upcoming season, which would effectively price the Cardinals out of the market. After re-signing Jones, Arizona has about $18 million left in cap space, and plenty of roster needs to address including at wide receiver, linebacker, safety, cornerback, and offensive line.
The legal tampering window will provide free agents like Campbell and Jefferson an indication of what teams are willing to offer them in contracts for the upcoming season, which will likely determine Arizona's interest level --or lack there of-- of jumping in on negotiations.
Less than a half hour after the legal tampering window opened Tuesday, the Chicago Tribune's Bears' beat writer Brad Biggs reported the franchise may be interested in signing Cardinals' safety D.J. Swearinger, who is likely one of the team's high-priority free agents this offseason.
If the Cardinals lose both Jefferson and Swearinger because they're priced out of the market, Arizona will be forced to scour the free agent market or use an early round draft choice to find a suitable replacement at safety.
During the legal tampering window, no contracts can be signed, deals cannot be finalized and any agreements made during this period are non-binding.