Lions' GM Matt Millen confirmed on Wednesday that the team has placed the franchise tag on defensive end Cory Redding, preventing the four-year player from testing the free agent market on March 2.
The Lions had until Thursday afternoon to use the last-gasp measure, one that -- according to rumors -- has Redding steamed. One report suggested he might even demand a trade.
Or it just might be a case of sour grapes.
The move isn't necessarily a surprise, considering the Lions were unable to reach an agreement with Redding after countless negotiation sessions that began in late December. Talks between the Lions and Redding's agent, Kennard McGuire, have been stagnant since early February.
A major hiccup between the two sides, Scout.com learned, was whether or not Redding should be compensated as a defensive end or tackle. Redding spent his first three years in Detroit at end, but enjoyed his most productive year in 2006 (including eight sacks and 47 tackles) on the interior as a tackle.
The Lions believe Redding should be paid based on his performance at the position. Redding, meanwhile, allegedly wants to be paid defensive end dollars on the coattails of his defensive tackle statistics.
The end position in the league demands a significantly higher pay rate than that of its counterpart.
Besides logic, Detroit also has the collective bargaining agreement on its side. Per the CBA, the franchise tag designation -- which pays the player the average of the top five salaries at his position -- applies to the most recent position the player had performed. In Redding's case, it's clearly at defensive tackle.
Redding will be paid just over $6.7 million in 2007, the average of the top five defensive tackles in the National Football League. That number would have ballooned to almost $9 million if he were at defensive end.
But Redding does have a last (albeit unlikely) option. He can refuse to sign Detroit's franchise tender, shopping his services elsewhere around the league. However, the qualifying team (if the Lions chose not to match the offer) would have to repay the Lions with two first-round draft choices in addition to overpaying for a player that has managed only one above average campaign during his career.
That is unlikely.
If Redding, like a handful of his teammates on the defense, is truly intent on leaving Detroit, the Lions will oblige. Lions' head coach Rod Marinelli has made it blatantly clear that he only wants players that want to don a Lions uniform. But the more reasonable and likely solution is for the two sides to work on a long-term agreement.
Last year, the Lions used the franchise tag on left tackle Jeff Backus. Although Backus was unhappy with the designation, the Lions were able to keep Backus in a holding pattern until they cemented him into a long-term contract later in the off-season.
The Lions have recruited Redding heavily to stay in Detroit, with the idea of pairing him with Shaun Rogers to form a formidable duo in the middle of the defensive line. If Redding is intent on building a future for himself both professionally and financially, the smart money would suggest he stick around.