Bills surprisingly tag Price

In a shocking move, the Bills franchise-tagged Peerless Price late Wednesday afternoon, meaning the fifth-year wide receiver will be offered – at the very least – a one-year, $5.01 million contract to play this season. Price doesn't have to sign the contract if he doesn't want to. But if he doesn't sign by Week 10 of the regular season, he would be ineligible to play the rest of the year.

Another team is free to come to an agreement with Price, but would have to compensate Buffalo with two first-round draft selections, which is highly unlikely.

Of course, Buffalo might try trading Price, but there are very specific rules to follow in regards to tags and trades. The rules were designed to prevent the circumvention of the NFL free agency system.

Bills president and general manager Tom Donahoe used the controversial tag to buy more time while keeping Price off the open market. Donahoe's hope is that he will eventually be able to find the common ground that allows the Bills to sign Price to a long-term deal.

But Price and agent Tim McGee were not pleased with the development, particularly because it came at the last second, and there wasn't even a hint that the Bills would do that. Buffalo hadn't tagged a player since John Fina in the ‘90s, a transaction that did eventually lead to a long-term deal for Fina.

In the weeks leading up to the Thursday deadline, Price had said he wasn't opposed to the tag, as long as it wasn't done maliciously.

Unfortunately, the franchise tag over the course of its 10-year existence has become a tool that makes negotiations between a player and a team very contentious. Last year, Sam Cowart's agent Gene Burrough flatly stated that he and Cowart were highly opposed to the Bills placing the franchise tag.  Burrough made it known to the team up front.

If Donahoe is serious about signing Price to a long-term deal, he's going to have to find a way to smooth over the hard feelings he just created with McGee and Price.

This situation might stretch through the off-season, meaning Price would not be in Buffalo during the team's mini-camps. That's not that big a deal because Price is a veteran and knows the offense.

It would be a big deal, however, if Donahoe determines that signing the receiver to a long-term deal is a lost cause and he withdraws the tag late in the off-season as a result.

Then Price wouldn't have a lot of time to familiarize himself with a new team, and that would likely make him mad.

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