Linebackers are signing their franchise tags this week, and Chad Greenway could be next. The franchise-tag designation deadline is today and 12 teams have already used it.
A funny thing happened on the way to the franchise tag potentially being eliminated with a new collective bargaining agreement. Linebackers given the tag started signing their offers.
On Wednesday, for reasons yet to be explained, both David Harris
of the Jets and LaMarr Woodley
of the Steelers signed their franchise tenders. Both are linebackers and subject to the same compensation that Chad Greenway
is slated to receive – roughly $10 million in 2011.
In recent history, assigning a franchise tag to a player has been little more than a kiss of death. It has led to protracted holdouts and bitter feelings toward the team that slapped the tag on them. While a sign of respect from the organization – the belief that he is a player we can't do without – it is has more times than not been viewed with resentment by the franchised player.
With the current CBA slated to expire a week from today, the timing of the signings is interesting to say the least. There has been a lot of discussion that the franchise tag itself may be sacrificed as a league concession in the CBA talks, which would render any tagging of players this year moot.
Clearly, the players took the advice of their agents to sign their franchise tender before the current CBA expires. The question now is quite simply "why?" What is the advantage? It could be the guaranteed money in the uncertain times surrounding the labor situation. There may be language in the CBA that allows players under contract to negotiate long-term extensions after the current CBA expires, but that seems unlikely, since free-agent business may cease to exist until a new deal is in place.
Will Greenway follow suit? He seemed pleased to get the tag, and it would seem to be the conventional wisdom for linebackers that have been franchised, so nothing would be a surprise at this point.
From the "Lemming Follow-Suit" File comes this moment of the absurd. The Jacksonville Jaguars, who hold the dubious distinction of placing the franchise tag on safety Donovin Darius three straight years – only to sign a long-term contract and play just 15 games over his final three seasons – have struck again. On Wednesday, the Jags franchised tight end Marcedes Lewis, a former first-round pick who has been viewed as something akin to a bust prior to 2010. In his first four seasons, despite missing just two games, he averaged just 31 catches for 381 yards and two touchdowns. In 2010, he caught 58 passes for 700 yards and 10 touchdowns – setting career highs in each and shattering his TD total. But is he a franchise player? If the Jaguars are willing to franchise him and guarantee him $7.3 million, one has to wonder if any team is going to sit on its franchise tag.
Today is the last day that teams can place the franchise tag on players. To date, 12 have taken that option – the Vikings (Greenway), Steelers (Woodley), Jets (Harris), Jaguars (Lewis), Colts (Peyton Manning), Eagles (Michael Vick), Chargers (Vincent Jackson), Patriots (Logan Mankins), Chiefs (Tamba Hali), Browns (Phil Dawson), Ravens (Haloti Ngata) and Panthers (Ryan Kalil).
Several non-draft stories are expected to emerge in the coming days from the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. The labor situation is one of them. The NFL also plans to unveil a new sideline assessment protocol for concussions. The plan will involve a team medical designee doing a cognitive test and using a specific symptom checklist. In the event a player fails any of the tests, he would be removed from the field so as not to claim he is fine and potentially suffer further damage in a game.
Combine coverage from Indianapolis will be coming all day long throughout the next several days on VikingUpdate.com and Scout.com. During the day, a running blog will be kept with notes from interviews with prospects, coaches and general managers. Videos, features stories and analysis will be part of the coverage, so keep it on VikingUpdate.com for all the latest Combine chatter.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.