NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith encouraged agents to "collude" in free agency to help players secure favorable deals, a source told ESPN's Dan Graziano.
Smith reportedly conveyed the message via videoconference in lieu of the annual seminar the NFLPA hosts each year at the scouting combine.
Players are expected to face a tougher market than usual in free agency because of the declining salary cap. The cap was set at $198.2 million in 2020, but is expected to land between $180 million and $185 million for 2021 as a result of lost revenues during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Collusion refers to an unwritten agreement that parties use in conjunction with one another to obtain leverage, and is an illegal practice. However, no laws or NFL rules stop agents from sharing contract offers and other information with each other as they negotiate with teams on behalf of their clients.
Free agency officially begins March 17, but players and agents may begin bargaining with clubs two days earlier.