Though Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson seems to believe that the franchise tag represents a badge of honor, there’s little honor in being prevented from becoming a free agent.
Sure, the franchise tag also constitutes a one-year offer for employment at a salary that the player wouldn’t be offered in any other line of work. But it’s far lower than what the player would receive if the player were able to sign a multi-year contract with significant guaranteed money.
Without significant guaranteed money, the risk of serious injury remains on the player.
And so most players will be upset by the maneuver. Players like Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes will decline to accept the offer.
“We have no plans to sign the tag at this time,” Grimes’ agent, Ben Dogra, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Friday. “We hope to be able to continue to discuss [through] all the issues at the appropriate time.”
The use of the phrase “no plans . . . at this time” allows Grimes to change his mind later. But the fact that he’s not under contract also allows him and every other franchise player to withhold services indefinitely. He can boycott the offseason program, training camp, and the preseason, and he can show up only days before the start of the regular season, sign the tender, and receive the full amount, fully guaranteed.
He also can stay away until Week 10 of the regular season, sign the tender then, finish the year, and hit the market in 2013 — unless the team is willing to offer 120 percent of his 2012 salary in order to use the franchise tag a second time.
The only risk a player takes by not signing the franchise tender is that the team can rescind it at any time, making the player an unrestricted free agent.
While on one hand that gives the player what he wanted in the first place, on the other hand it can put the player on the market well after teams have blown their budgets and/or determined their depth charts. Jackson’s intention to sign the tender in Philly surely was influenced in part by the fact that the Eagles twice before have rescinded the franchise tender.
The Falcons likely won’t do that with Grimes. In an increasingly pass-happy league, they need him. Especially since Dunta Robinson has yet to play at the level his own multi-year, free-agent contract would contemplate.
Grimes is surely holding out hope that, by holding out, the Falcons will give him the kind of multi-year deal that Grimes would have gotten if he hadn’t been blocked from becoming an unrestricted free agents.