Assuming that the NFL and the players union fail to work out a new CBA before March 5 (and that’s a fairly safe assumption at this point), receiver Braylon Edwards will be a restricted free agent.
Even though Edwards has five years of NFL experience, six years will be required to qualify for unrestricted free agency in the uncapped year.
As a result, the Jets will be able to secure his rights without using the franchise tag, which surely will exceed $10 million for wideouts in 2010.
It has been reported that the Jets plan to use the highest possible tender on Edwards, and Edwards has said that he’s fine with that. Rich Cimini of the New York Daily News reports that coach Rex Ryan said Monday that the Jets will indeed use the highest possible RFA tender on Edwards.
The highest possible tender — a one-year deal giving the Jets the right to match any offer sheet signed by Edwards and a first-round and third-round pick as compensation if the Jets choose to fold — will cost the Jets 110 percent of Edwards’ 2009 base salary of $4.55 million. As a result, his $5 million tender offer will be significantly higher than the normal maximum RFA tender of roughly $3 million.
Still, it’s half the price that the Jets would have to pay if Edwards’ were subject to the franchise tag. (Unlike the franchise tag, the RFA tender also isn’t guaranteed if/when signed by the player.)
It remains to be seen whether the Jets would trade Edwards for something less than a first-round pick and a third-round pick as compensation. It’s also possible that the two sides will work out a long-term deal.
Especially since Edwards proved during the AFC title game that he still remembers how to catch a football.