An NFL Players Association source confirmed that the union has sent a letter to the NFL Management Council inquiring whether unethical dealings took place leading up to last week's trade between the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots.
On Tuesday, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported that the NFLPA was looking into the trade of wide receiver Wes Welker from the Dolphins to the Patriots. Welker was a restricted free agent and visited the Patriots. There had been indications before the visit that Welker would receive an offer sheet from the Patriots for a six-year contract worth approximately $36 million.
Had the Dolphins not matched the deal, they would have received a second-round draft pick as compensation for losing Welker. However, before Welker received the offer sheet, the teams worked out a deal in which New England sent a second- and seventh-round pick to the Dolphins for Welker's rights. The Patriots then signed Welker to a five-year, $18 million that includes $9 million in the first year of the deal.
The concern is whether Miami was falsely induced to trade Welker, believing there was no chance he could be retained.
"The rules specifically state that one team can't give another team any additional consideration to discourage a team from matching an offer sheet," the union source said.
But what if there was no offer sheet ever given to the player?
"We'll have to see about that," the source said.
The inquiry could lead to the deal being nullified, although that seems unlikely. In essence, the Dolphins appear to have gotten a little more out of the deal and the Patriots had to pay a lot less.