Although the NFL has informed all 32 teams that they can start using the franchise tag designation for one player per team beginning Feb 10 with a Feb. 24 deadline, the NFL Players Association has taken issue with that recommendation.
Through the NFLPA salary cap and legal departments, they have distributed a memo to all contract advisors.
"We have received reports that the NFL is advising clubs that they can place a franchise tag on players whose contracts will expire at the end of the 2010 league year. 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."
Continuing on, the memo advises agents to inform the players union if teams tell them they intend to use the franchise tag.
"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," the memo states. "Meanwhile, we will make sure that the rights of any players improperly designated will be protected."
That’s fine, but the franchise tag is still expected to be used by many teams.
The Baltimore Ravens expect to have the option to use the franchise tag to retain Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata.