Although plenty of articles (including most of the articles written by me) will characterize the Matthew Stafford for Jared Goff trade as a done deal, it’s not. It won’t be until March 17 at 4:01 p.m. ET.
More specifically, it won’t be until both teams communicate the same terms of the trade to the league office as of 4:01 p.m. ET on March 17.
This means that either team can decide not to proceed, with no consequence or rules violation. It’s happened before. In 2017, the Browns and Bengals had a deadline trade in place for quarterback A.J. McCarron. The Browns failed (or “failed“) to get official word to the league in time. Thus, the trade didn’t happen.
Six years earlier, the Ravens and Bears had a trade in place during the first round of the draft. The Bears didn’t communicate the deal to the league. And so the trade didn’t happen. The Ravens weren’t happy; they wanted the fourth-round pick that the Bears had offered to send — especially after the player the Bears wanted (tackle Gabe Carimi) fell to them anyway. The league did nothing.