Photo credit: John Konstantaras/AP

Tim Rohan of The MMQB spent the start of NFL free agency shadowing Adam Schefter for 24 hours. What he produced was a revealing timeline that chronicles the manic energy of an NFL scoop hound on the biggest day of the year for NFL scoop hounds. And Alshon Jeffery is all pissed off about it, for some reason.

Here’s the relevant segment from Rohan’s piece:

In the middle of Schefter’s flurry of calls, Alshon Jeffery ... rings him, wanting to know how much money the other free-agent receivers are making. Players sometimes contact Schefter with questions like this because he likely has that information even if he hasn’t reported it, as is the case here. Indeed, as they talk Schefter receives a text saying that Torrey Smith will be signing with the Eagles.

Schefter goes through the contract numbers on Smith, Jackson and Pierre Garçon, slowly, so Jeffery can apparently write them down. “It’s all about the guarantee, Alshon,” Schefter says. “It’s all about the guarantee … Your average per year could be $100 million. It doesn’t matter. If they’re going to guarantee you the majority of the contract, that’s what you want.”

Schefter asks where Jeffery is going. Jeffery doesn’t have an answer yet. Schefter asks that Jeffery notify him when he does make a decision and leaves the conversation at that.

After he hangs up, Schefter explains that he helps players like that “hoping that they reciprocate. Some people do, and some people don’t. And we’re going to find out.”

This is fascinating stuff! That entire exchange peels back the curtain to show us exactly how transactional NFL reporting gets done. But the internet got wind of it, and as the internet sometimes tends to do, it misread the situation as something much more salacious than it was.

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As a result, Jeffery got mad:

Rohan, in an email, told me, “We stand by our reporting that Alshon Jeffery talked to Adam Schefter before agreeing to a contract with the Eagles.” But there was never any reason to doubt what Rohan reported.

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Understand: Jeffery did not, in fact, seek Adam Schefter’s counsel on how best to approach free agency. If you read that exchange closely, it’s clear that Jeffery sought information, because information is currency in the NFL scoop game.

The scoop game is not a one-sided exchange. It’s not just Schefter or Ian Rapoport or Chris Mortensen sending texts and making calls to sources to see what they know. It’s often a trade, and at times it’s even a negotiation involving how or when you go public with a particular nugget of intel. The scoop hounds who thrive in this arena frequently have something to offer their sources. This is why league executives, coaches, and players all play ball with the scoop hounds. The scoop hounds get what they need by dishing some gossip here, or a rumor there, or—as in the specific case of Alshon Jeffery—some relevant salary figures that might be flying around. Everything is leveraged. The entire enterprise of NFL reportage is built on conversations just like the one between Jeffery and Schefter. We just never get to see them play out right in front of us like this.

I once worked a source for weeks in the hopes of getting him to tell me where a particular free agent was going to sign. I met with this source for a beer at the combine, taking care to do it at a quiet bar away from the usual haunts where many of the league’s cognoscenti typically gather to bro-down all week. I thought I had this one in the bag. At some point during our chat, the source told me he’s known Schefter for a long time, and that Schefter usually has some info for him. At that moment, I knew Schefter would get the transaction first. And he did. (Schefter, too, knows what this is like: Jeffery ended up giving the scoop that he signed with the Eagles to ESPN’s Josina Anderson. All part of the game.)

Alshon, buddy. It’s all good. You’ve got nothing to hide. I know it wasn’t your intention, but thanks for showing us how things really get done.

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[The MMQB]