In an effort to make it difficult for him to sign with another team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will tender Pro Bowl guard Davin Joseph as a restricted free agent, his agent confirmed Thursday.
Joseph, whose contract has expired and is set to become an unrestricted free agent March 4, would likely receive a one-year tender worth $3.168-million. Because of the current labor talks, the RFA tender may not be binding. But if it were upheld, the Bucs would have the right of first refusal on any offer Joseph might receive in free agency. If they failed to match that offer, the Bucs would receive a first- and third round pick as compensation.
"Yes, they will give Davin an RFA tender,'' said Joseph's agent, Ben Dogra.
Re-signing Joseph, a first-round pick of the Bucs in 2006, is a priority for the Bucs this off-season. Currently, players with less than six years experience are restricted free agents.
The Bucs were able to apply the same tag last season on linebacker Barrett Ruud, who now has played six seasons and is eligible for free agency. Tampa Bay could also tender tackle Jeremy Trueblood, linebackers Quincy Black and Adam Hayward as a restricted free agents.
Under the old CBA, players with four or more years of service whose contracts expired were eligible for unrestricted free agency. But 2010 was a year with no salary cap and players with less than six years of service were considered restricted.
Several players balked at having their free-agent rights restricted last offseason, including Patriots offensive lineman Logan Mankins. Vincent Jackson and Marcus McNeill of the San Diego Chargers held out during part of the season in protest before reporting. McNeill eventually signed a long-term deal with the Chargers while Mankins and Jackson received franchise tags from their teams this offseason.
If the RFA tenders prove to be binding again in 2011, it will limit where players like Joseph can go and how much they can earn next season.