Some have concluded that the decision of Panthers lineman Ryan Kalil and Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley to sign their franchise tenders means that the NFLPA no longer believes that any franchise tags applied in the days before the expiration of the Collective Bargaining Agreement are invalid.
The union has not changed its mind, according to Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald.
It’s no surprise, contrary to speculation from others. (At least one of whom has a set of keys to this car. Even if he possibly isn’t old enough to drive.)
A franchise tender is a contract offer. Each player to whom the offer is made has the right to accept it. If he accepts the offer, a contract is in place for the 2011 season.
In the case of Kalil and Woodley, they opted to accept the offer. And it was smart for them to do so.
If/when the union fights the placement of the franchise tag on one or more of the other players who have opted not to accept the one-year contract offer and if the outcome is that the franchise tags aren’t valid and if the next CBA requires a player to have five years of service before becoming an unrestricted free agent, both Kalil and Woodley would have been restricted free agents/ Thus, their teams would have been able to squat on their rights via a much lower one-year contract offer.
The problem is that, at this point, no one knows how the new labor deal will unfold. For guys who only one year ago could have been held in place with an offer in the range of $3 million, getting the franchise tender arguably represents a pretty good deal.
Players with more than four years of service may feel differently, and they may be preparing (via the union) to fight the application of the franchise tag. Each of the players who haven’t accepted the franchise offer have every right to fight, even if the fight ultimately isn’t successful.