This afternoon is the NFL franchise tag deadline. I keep hearing radio hosts talking about it as the deadline to sign a long-term deal. However, I was under the impression that once this deadline passes, the tagged player is under contract for one year, and that any player under contract with a team could agree to and sign a new contract or a contract extension with that same team at any time, 365 days a year.

So what rule prevents a tagged player from taking the one-year franchise tag tender and continuing to negotiate with their team after today for a better deal before the season starts, even if it is merely a contract extension? And when can they agree to a long-term contract: after the season, free agency next year, or some other time? Or am I being misled here, either by the terminology I'm hearing on the radio or by my own assumptions?

up vote 1 down vote accepted

It is of course the Collective Bargaining Agreement...

From Article 10. Section 1.

The player so designated may be one who would otherwise be a Restricted Free Agent. Except as set forth in Section 2(a)(i) below, any Club that designates a Franchise Player shall be the only Club with which such Franchise Player may negotiate or sign a Player Contract during the period the player is so designated, notwithstanding the number of his Accrued Seasons. The period for Clubs to designate Franchise Players will begin on the twenty-second day preceding the first day of the new League Year and will end at 4:00pm New York time on the eighth day preceding the first day of the new League Year.

The Franchise Tag is essentially a one-year contract and is very strict and well defined within the CBA. If no other deal can be made prior to the deadline the amount and term of the tag takes effect. Since you can't extend a Franchise Tag there would not be any ability to alter the deal once signed.

From Article 10. Section 9.

A Club may designate a Franchise Player only during the periods and in the numbers specified in Section 1 above; otherwise, the Club’s right to such designation expires. However, a Club may designate a player to whom the Club has rights as a Franchise Player with respect to any first future League Year during the term of this Agreement for which such player is anticipated to be an Unrestricted Free Agent. For any such players, the Club shall be deemed on the first day of the first future League Year in which the designation takes effect to have automatically tendered the player a one year NFL Player Contract...

The NFL's website puts this in a less "legalese" way:

July 16: At 4:00 p.m., New York time, deadline for any club that designated a Franchise Player to sign such player to a multiyear contract or extension. After this date, the player may sign only a one-year contract with his prior club for the 2018 season, and such contract cannot be extended until after the club’s last regular season game.

  • What do you mean "can't extend a Franchise Tag"? That's what I'm confused about. I understand the basic tagging process, but not why Le'Veon Bell can't negotiate and sign a long term contract extension today that starts in 2019 after the franchise tag contract ends. – jcgoble3 Sep 13 at 16:07
  • @jcgoble3 because he is under a one-year contract that can not be extended (the Franchise Tag). After the one year he is subject to be a free agent, which has its own signing period. I'll see if I can add something in the answer. – Skooba Sep 13 at 16:13
  • So it's simply a rule that no contract extension can be signed by a Franchise Player until he becomes a free agent? That seems extremely player-hostile, and I'm surprised the union ever agreed to such a rule. Weird. – jcgoble3 Sep 13 at 16:21
  • @jcgoble3 Oh yeah, the Franchise Tag is a terrible deal for players... and 9 years is awfully long time for a CBA to be in effect most unions I deal with the CBA is only 3 years. – Skooba Sep 13 at 16:24

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