Collusion or Gamesmanship?

Brad Childress' admissions that Bill Belichick tried to prevent the Vikings from signing tight end Garrett Mills off waivers has brought rise to questions about when is a player able to shop around or is it legal to try to sway others not to take a player you've cut?

Was the conversation between Bill Belichick and Brad Childress concerning tight end Garrett Mills an attempt at collusion or merely business as usual behind the scenes of the NFL world?

That's the question some are pondering today as Childress, who normally remains quite mum to the backstage goings-on in the NFL, was forthcoming in describing the process of how the Vikings acquired Mills on the waiver wire. According to a radio interview Childress conducted this weekend, he said he got a call from Bill Belichick asking him not to take Mills. The first question that comes to mind is how did Belichick know that the Vikings were so interested in Mills and was the call to Childress one of several the Patriots head coach made around the league?

According to Childress, he was contacted by Belichick and was asked not to take Mills off waivers. Apparently Belichick was hoping to slide Mills through the waiver process and put him on the practice squad. He hinted that there was a Vikings player that he was considering claiming off waivers but wouldn't do it if the Vikings left Mills alone. They didn't and the Patriots responded by claiming linebacker David Herron.

The question some are now asking is whether this sort of tactic is legal. While it is a violation of league policy to talk to another player who is under contract, teams talk about potential trades all the time. However, where the gray area comes is that, by releasing Mills, the Patriots (at least temporarily) no longer had any ties with him. He was able to be claimed by teams other than the Patriots and wouldn't be back in their organization until he cleared waivers.

While at first look it doesn't look as though the Patriots circumvented the rules, it does open up the question of when a player is able to be discussed among teams. If he was put on waivers, do people like Belichick have the ability to warn other coaches not to pick up a player that they're willing to put on the 53-man roster while that team is looking to put him on the practice squad?

We'll follow this one and see if it goes anywhere.

* In that same radio interview, Childress said he would be "sick" if someone claimed QB Tyler Thigpen, whom the Vikings spent a lot of time trying to groom since drafting him in April. He was signed almost immediately after the draft and was spending a lot of time learning the Vikings offense. Is it coincidence that the Chiefs are the third opponent on the Vikings schedule and now they have a QB who knows all their signals and terminology? Let the conspiracy theorists work that one out.
* Along the same lines, is it a coincidence that running back Artose Pinner is now a member of the Atlanta Falcons, the Vikings' opponent on Sunday? We think not. Vikings fans better hope he doesn't have the same effect on Minnesota that he did when he had a chance to face his old Lions team last year, when he got his only start of the season and racked up 125 yards and three touchdowns.
* One of the surprise cuts was Dovonte Edwards, who looked to have a spot on the roster locked down earlier in camp. He was claimed by the Giants and not only has his career back, but looks like a front-runner to win the nickel back job for the G-Men.
* Khreem Smith, one of the Vikings cuts, cleared waivers and was signed by the Chiefs to the practice squad.
* As of this writing, Greg Blue remains unsigned.

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