NFL teams can begin contacting players who are scheduled to be free agents on Monday as part of the league’s pre-free agency contact period.
The contact period, sometimes called a legal tampering period, lasts from noon on Monday until 4 p.m. on Wednesday. While teams can can talk to players starting at noon on Monday, they can not officially begin signing players until Wednesday evening.
In the meantime, players and teams may make handshake agreements on terms of contracts, but nothing may become official until Wednesday.
The contact period is the first time teams can reach out to players that have been contracted with other teams. Until Monday, teams could only talk to their own pending free agents and players that had been released.
The 4 p.m. Wednesday start of free agency also coincides with the beginning of the new league year, meaning all teams must be under the salary cap before that time. Six NFL teams still need to clear cap space before then, according to overthecap.com.
The Steelers have approximately $5 million in cap room at the moment. They will need about double that in order to complete their regular offseason business, such as signing draft picks and putting together a practice squad.
That means the Steelers are unlikely to be major players in the free agent market when it opens, which means most of the team’s nearly two dozen pending free agents, including linebacker Bud Dupree and wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster are likely to sign elsewhere.