With the Colts and Pats content to let their franchise quarterbacks play out the final years of their respective contracts, each team can take some solace in the availability of the franchise tag.
Neither Peyton Manning nor Tom Brady will get a crack at the open market if the Colts and the Pats opt to slap them with the primary tool for restricting the mobility of veteran players. And, as Albert Breer of the Boston Globe explains in an article that takes an in-depth look at the challenges the Pats are facing when it comes to signing Brady, both teams undoubtedly will use the franchise tag.
But this assumes that a franchise tag will be available in 2011. As we explained earlier this year, uncertainty already exists as to the status of the franchise tag upon conclusion of the current CBA. More importantly, the status of Manning and Brady could create a wedge among the owners at the bargaining table.
What if the union proposes moving the threshold for restricted free agency from four years to five, in exchange for the elimination of the franchise tag? For the league generally, that could be regarded as a good deal. For the Colts and Pats, it would mean watching Brady and Manning hit the open market.
It’s all the more reason for the Colts and the Patriots to get these guys signed, sooner rather than later. Otherwise, the union eventually could put Indy owner Jim Irsay and Pats owner Robert Kraft in a very delicate situation — and they both could be compelled at some point to expose their marquee players to the open market in the name of the greater good.
We don’t know how it’s all going to play out. But it could be fun to watch it play out.