Using franchise tag could get dicey for Bucs
Last week in this blog, we discussed the possibility of the Bucs using the franchise-player designation on a player such as Davin Joseph or Barrett Ruud.
Despite the status of the collective bargaining agreement, which expires in just less than a month, the league has instructed teams to proceed as if they will have the franchise designation at their disposal.
But there's a potential twist to the story. The NFL Players Association has suggested it could challenge the use of the tag because, it claims, 2011 is not part of the current labor agreement. That's true of course, but NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said last week that, because the window for tagging and negotiating with franchise players begins and ends before the expiration of the CBA (on March 3), use of the tag did not appear problematic.
But in a letter distributed to agents last week, the NFLPA is calling that into question. Here's an excerpt:
"The current CBA provides that 'each club shall be permitted to designate one of its players who would otherwise be an Unrestricted Free Agent (or Restricted Free Agent) as a Franchise Player each season during the term of this Agreement.' The 2011 season is not a 'season during the term of this Agreement,' so the NFL has no valid basis for claiming the right to franchise players in 2011.
"If you have had any discussions with clubs about their intent to use the Franchise designation for the 2011 season please contact the NFLPA to discuss this matter. Meanwhile, we will make sure that the rights of any players improperly designated will be protected."
That might be posturing, but it also could be a threat. Will the league take legal action to block franchise designations? Who knows?
The point is, it sounds like teams will have to think long and hard and consult with the league before making the choice to tag a player -- and that includes the Bucs. The window to assign the tag to players opens on Thursday, so expect to hear more about this in the very near future.