TAMPA — NFL security, the Bucs and the Buffalo Bills are investigating a prank that led to the recording of a private phone conversation between team general managers Mark Dominik and Buddy Nix.
Pranksters conducted the enlightening (but likely illegal) experiment on Friday, just before the start of the NFL's three-day free-agent negotiating period. After making a call to Bills general manager Buddy Nix posing as Dominik, the pranksters somehow got access to the eventual callback from Nix to Dominik.
They surreptitiously recorded the five-minute call and shared the clip with Deadspin.com. In it, Dominik laments the uselessness of the negotiating period and discusses efforts to trade running back LeGarrette Blount and receiver Arrelious Benn (he claimed there's some interest in both).
Nix talked at length about his team's struggles to find a suitable starting quarterback, suggesting they didn't have one in Ryan Fitzpatrick — who the Bills released Tuesday.
On the negotiating period, during which teams and agents can discuss free agents but not finalize deals, Dominik said, "What's the point? All it does is give leverage to the agents to ask for more money."
Regarding the Bucs' free agents, Dominik said, "None of mine are signing. Not one. They don't want to sign."
The Bucs already were known to be attempting to trade Blount and Benn, and Dominik was gauging Nix's interest.
"I know I sat down and talked to you about some of the players I'm talking about moving," Dominik said. "Benn and Blount are the two that have more interest. The corner, I don't know what I'm going to do. I haven't decided what to do with the corner yet. Those are the three. In terms of Jamon Meredith, no one's really called me back on Jamon to be honest with you."
Dominik didn't identify the young cornerback. It wasn't previously known the team had interest in trading Meredith, a guard-tackle.
Nix, in response to the trade inquiry, said, "We're pretty good on tackles. To tell you the truth, we've got six draft picks and, hell, we need to gain some, not give them up."
The biggest ripples came when Nix began talking about Fitzpatrick.
"We're still struggling here with our quarterback," Nix said. "We're not really struggling. He's going to have to do something, or we'll have to … we just can't afford to pay that kind of money for a guy who's fighting for probably a backup job."
The Bucs had no comment on the recorded call, while the Bills issued a statement saying they were reviewing the situation with their legal counsel. Many states, including Florida, have laws against secretly recording phone conversations.