Nobody comes for free in NFL free agency that begins Monday

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FILE - Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady leaves the field an NFL divisional round playoff football game against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans, in this Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021, file photo. om Brady has agreed to a contract extension with the Buccaneers that provides the Super Bowl champions with much-needed salary cap relief and will help the seven-time NFL champion reach a goal of playing until hes at least 45. Brady posted a picture of himself on Twitter, signing the extension Friday, March 12, 2021, with the message: In pursuit of 8 ... LFG@ Buccaneers were keeping the band together. (AP Photo/Brett Duke, File)

The term in use these days is “legal tampering.” Doesn't seem sensible, and some might call it the “cheating period” instead.

Regardless, on Monday, two days before the NFL's 2021 business year begins, the 32 teams and agents for the players will be making deals. Lots of deals, even if they aren't official until Wednesday.

“I hate calling it the legal tampering period because that just seems like that’s a debacle of the English language,” Rams general manager Les Snead says. “Legal tampering, and tampering is illegal? But we’ll have to adjust based on that because there’s no guarantee that you can re-sign (players).”

Even at a time when the salary cap has plummeted by $16 million due to lost revenues during the COVID-19-impacted 2020 season, lots of money will be going to the most-prized players.

That likely will include Tampa Bay pass rusher Shaq Barrett; Green Bay All-Pro center Corey Linsley and standout running back Aaron Jones; Detroit wide receiver Kenny Golladay; San Francisco tackle Trent Williams; and Chargers tight end Hunter Henry. No superstars about to break the bank, but plenty of proven talent to help teams improve before turning attention to next month's draft.

Of course, free agency always is a buyer-beware situation.

“Yeah, we want talented players; but we want a good cohesive unit and guys who fit well together,” Dolphins coach Brian Flores says. "That’s not always 11 stars. It’s almost never that way.

“So we’ve scoured free agency, the draft, and I think we have a pretty good feel for the types of guys we are looking for from a skillset standpoint, but also from a locker room standpoint as people as well. ... That’s an important factor that can’t be overlooked. All of those things play a role.”