Clock ticks on long-term deals for franchise-tagged players

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For a handful of NFL franchises, the slow time could soon be interrupted, thanks to the most important annual deadline applicable to the franchise tag.

The Steelers , the Cowboys, the Lions, and the Rams have until Monday, July 16, to work out long-term deals with running back Le'Veon Bell, defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, defensive end Ziggy Ansah, and safety Lamarcus Joyner, respectively. If a long-term deal isn’t signed and approved by the league office before 4:00 p.m. ET on the 16th, the window for doing a long-term closes until the 2018 regular season ends.

For Lawrence, Ansah, and Joyner (each of whom have signed the one-year franchise tender), it would put them each on track for a 20-percent raise in 2019 or a trip to the open market — absent a long-term deal with their current teams negotiated after the season ends. For Bell, who hasn’t signed the franchise tender, it means the quarterback franchise tag for 2019 or unrestricted free agency, absent a last-ditch effort to negotiate a long-term contract between the end of the regular season and the moment Bell signs elsewhere.

The Cowboys and Lawrence reportedly will talk this week. For the Lions, the indication consistently has been that they hope to assess Ansah in 2018 and make a long-term decision for 2019. The Rams would probably have a hard time giving big money to Joyner before finally extending the contract of defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who is a year away from the franchise-tag dance.

Bell remains the biggest name, and his situation presents the highest stakes. Last year, he exercised his prerogative to stay away from the team until Labor Day, which allowed him to apply maximum leverage while still getting his full $12.1 million salary. Until he signs the tender, the Steelers could rescind it.

That remains unlikely, but it would definitely put Bell in a tough spot, thrusting him onto the market long after the big money has been spent and the rosters have been set. The Steelers would do it only if they believe they can thrive without Bell. Few if any outside the organization do.

Still, if they don’t sign him to a long-term deal before July 16, the Steelers may end up having to find a way to thrive without Bell in 2019, and beyond.

17 responses to “Clock ticks on long-term deals for franchise-tagged players

  1. Absurd amounts of money paid to these people. Main reason so many fans can’t afford to attend games. Soon the stands will be filled with corporate types who only want to tell their friends that they attended a game, even if they weren’t sure who was playing.

  2. .
    The Steelers took S Terrell Edmunds at pick #28. The Patriots took RB Sony Michel at #31. One could play the “what if?” game as in, ” What if the Steelers cut Bell and beat the Patriots to Michel?” Only time will tell which was the better move.

  3. There are 2 components to a players worth: skill and price

    Tom Brady is a bargain at $20 million/year. He would be a terrible signing at $100 million/year.

    LeVeon Bell is a great player skill wise. At 12 million he’s worth having. Is he worth having at 15MM? 18MM? At some point the team is paying so much that regardless of how good the player is, he’s costing the team too much. They have to let 2 other good players go and replace them with scrubs.

    Bell should sign the contract, take his money, and then make more for the next couple of years.

  4. bocadiver1 says: “Absurd amounts of money paid to these people. Main reason so many fans can’t afford to attend games.”

    Bull. The bulk of the NFL revenue is from tv contracts. Obviously, you’ve never been to a real NFL game, as I only see fans everywhere around us.

  5. The Rams went ALL IN this season. After next season they will have to have fire sales in order to be under the Cap

  6. If the NFLPA is truly focused on guaranteed contracts, which they admit they realize will be shorter term, they should welcome every franchise tag. In fact, they should encourage players to take the tag over a long-term deal: at least one that’s not like Cousin’s.

    As stated previously by others, the players already can negotiate guaranteed deals. However, most lack the leverage.

    Perhaps in the next CBA, instead of pushing for all contracts being guaranteed, they should be open to expanding the number of exclusive franchise tags available each year to teams. A win/win.

  7. >There are 2 components to a players worth: skill and price

    Don’t forget the 3rd component… circumstances.

    Bell on another team say… the Jets, wouldn’t be near as productive as he is on the Steelers and as such, his value wouldn’t be as high. Consequently, he wouldn’t be able to be paid as much.

    Having guys like Antonio Brown, Ju-Ju Smith-Schuster, that offensive line, and Ben Rothlisberger running the show on the field allows Bell the extra room he needs to be able to be as productive as he is. It’s not like he has to face 8-9 man fronts as defenses are walking their safties into the box with guys like Brown and Shuster on the outside and a passing game system and QB that’s able to focus on and find them. Those guys are drawing double coverage out there and that’s 1-2 less guys Bell has to contend with each play.

    If you want to know how big a deal it is look no further than Todd Gurley with the Rams in 2016. No passing game and no outside help equated to a train-wreck of a season. Change the circumstances in 2017… add in a sophisticated Sean McVay passing game, throw in a Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, and Sammy Watkins and Gurley’s 2017 season was MVP worthy.

    Circumstances are a big part of the equation.

  8. Teams are abusing the use of the Franchise Tag…it’s time to either get rid of it, increase it’s value to deter teams from using it, or reduce the compensation awarded to the team losing the player to one 2nd round pick…enough is enough!

  9. With the amount of expiring contracts there’s no reason for the Rams to be in cap trouble. Their issue will be replacing the players who leave.

  10. Here’s a concept that works in the real world. Owner says I’ve got a job offer for you. It paysX dollars. You want to come to work for us or not. None of the players college education warrant these multi-million salaries. Only because of the lucrative television packages cause the conflict of I want more money.

  11. You can hope all you want….this man is a soft, injury milking, stiff !!!!!!

  12. I wouldn’t touch Ansah with a 10 foot pole. Dude has been completely nonexistent for long stretches the past two seasons, then, does something insane like get 12 sacks in 3 games.

    Let him walk even if he breaks the sack record (okay, maybe THEN you keep him another year at the ridiculous salary). You just can’t trust him.

  13. NO and I mean NO RB is worth that kind of money period!!!! Yes he is a heck of a RB but it’s a passing league and you can find two RBs that can each get hot from time to time that get you 700 yards each and pay them close to 1MM a each.

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