LATEST: Colts franchise Peyton Manning.
UPDATE: The Ravens have franchised Haloti Ngata.
UPDATE: The Chargers have franchised Vincent Jackson.
EARLIER: Over the past 24 hours NFL teams have begun applying their franchise and transition tags to would-be free agents. So far Logan Mankins (Patriots), Mike Vick (Eagles), and David Harris (Jets) have been franchised while David Akers (Eagles) has been slapped with the transition tag.
In the past, the franchise tag, which has existed since 1993, has been an effective way for teams to ensure that they keep their most important free agent. The franchise tag comes with a one-year contract and a number equivalent to the average of the top five players at their position. The one-year deal was a way for teams to avoid making huge long-term investments, and to force players to stay motivated and thus perform at a high level. Players loathed the tag because no matter how well they played the season before, they might not be able to maximise their value on the open market.
Transition tags are simpler, they can be applied to one player per team each year and give players one-year deals at an average number of the league’s 10 highest paid players at their position. They also give teams the right to match any contract offered by other teams.
This year, we have no idea what the tags mean. NFL teams are going through the motions of applying the tags as they would have in years past, but the players insist the tags have no power. Technically they can be applied under the current CBA, which expires on March 3rd, but we don’t know if they’ll carry any weight after that date.
No free agents will be signing anywhere until there’s a new CBA, and we have no idea if the franchise and transition tags will even exist under the new labour deal or how they’ll be structured.
Teams would be foolish not to at least act as if the tags still have their power — not doing so would appear as a sign of weakness — but the moves you’ll see this week are more for show than anything else.
Still, we should expect to see several more key players franchised in the coming days, including Peyton Manning (who will get a long-term deal, but the franchise tag serves as insurance), Haloti Ngata, and Richard Seymour.
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