July 15 deadline confirmed for all franchise players, maybe

As we continue to look for topics about which to write during the only truly sssslow period of the NFL offseason, we’ve stumbled onto a topic that we’ve been able to milk into multiple posts.

We’ve previously commented several times on the upcoming July 15 deadline for signing franchise players to multi-year deals.  Though some language of Article XX, Section 2(k) of the Collective Bargaining Agreement arguably implies in its final sentence that the rule does not apply to a player who has signed his one-year franchise tender, other aspects of the provision suggest that the July 15 deadline applies to all franchise players.

On Monday, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello confirmed our interpretation via e-mail.

But we’ve found another wrinkle, which if nothing else will provide fodder for a final post on the topic.

Article XX, Section 2(k) says that, after July 15, “the player may sign only a one-year Player Contract with his Prior Club for that season.”  In turn, Article I, Section 2(z) of the CBA defines “Prior Club” as “the Club that contracted with or otherwise held the NFL playing rights for the
player for the previous NFL League Year.”

In the case of Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel, his “Prior Club” was the Patriots, who traded him to Kansas City after Cassel signed the franchise tender.  Thus, Cassel apparently would be permitted to sign a multi-year deal with the Chiefs after July 15.

We’re in the process of determining whether that indeed is the case.

It’s a cow that we won’t have to get up extra early to milk.