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Half Smokes Hypothetical: Professional Teams And 'Verbal' Contracts

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Half Smokes Hypothetical is a daily discussion where we throw out a D.C. sports-related question based on the news of the day. It's a hypothetical discussion, which is what makes it fun (we hope).

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So this Eric Belanger stuff fascinates me. On the one hand, a contract isn't a contract until it's put in writing. On the other hand, the Capitals did string Belanger along a bit by even sending him training camp information. 

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That leads to today's hypothetical:

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Do professional sports teams have a duty to follow through on "verbal" contracts like these? (I put "verbal" in quotes because every contract is technically "verbal," in that it is composed of words). If not, does that still mean the Capitals deserve some blame for their treatment of Belanger, or are they off the hook?

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