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Uncertainty Around NFL CBA Causing Confusion About Franchise Tags
Published February 2, 2011
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With the first date on which NFL clubs can place a franchise tag on a player now just eight days away, the question of whether teams can tag players for next season if no new CBA is in place could fuel a new fire in the ongoing labor battle between the league and players union. Teams typically can place a franchise tag on a player starting 22 days before the start of the league year. Drawing back from March 4, which would be the start of the new league year and when free agency typically begins, that would make Feb. 10 the date on which teams could start applying tags. March 4 of this year, however, would also be the first day for the league and players without a CBA if the two sides cannot reach agreement on a new deal. The NFLPA has taken the position, sources said, that the NFL cannot tag players because the tag is a term and condition for employment under the next CBA, which has not yet been negotiated. The union, the sources said, has not made a secret of its position, as the free agent tag period is not noted, unlike every other major deadline involving NFL player contracts, on the NFL certified adviser calendars it has distributed to all agents. “I expect the franchise tag to continue to operate as it has in prior seasons and clubs to be permitted to exercise their rights under the tag,” said NFL Exec VP & General Counsel Jeff Pash. It is not clear how the tag dispute may be resolved. “I think the clubs are aware of the PA’s position,” said one prominent agent, who did not want to be identified because he was not authorized to speak on union matters. “I believe that will be an issue involving the legal process or collective bargaining.”