New CBA will complicate free agency for Cowboys, Titans, Buccaneers

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Good news for all teams, a new CBA quite possibly will be in place before the start of the 2020 league year. Bad news for a small handful of teams, a new CBA quite possibly will be in place before the start of the 2020 league year.

If the new league year begins without a new labor deal, all teams will be able to use a franchise tag and a transition tag this offseason. That particularly helps teams like the Cowboys, Titans, and Buccaneers, who have multiple free agents they may want to keep from hitting the market unfettered.

For Dallas, it’s quarterback Dak Prescott and receiver Amari Cooper. If there’s a new CBA, one of them will be hitting the market — unless the other signs a new deal before the deadline for applying the tag. And for as much as the Cowboys need to keep Prescott, the prospect of using a first-round pick for Cooper and getting only a season-and-a-half out of him is the kind of thing that could get a G.M. fired, if the G.M. wasn’t also the owner.

For Tennessee, there’s an urgency to keep running back Derrick Henry and quarterback Ryan Tannehill. With CAA now representing both players, the chances of one signing so that the other can be tagged are slim. Tennessee will have to risk letting one of them get to the market, and to hope that they can convince him to stay.

In Tampa, it’s still not clear whether the Bucs want to keep quarterback Jameis Winston. But they definitely want to keep defensive end Shaquil Barrett, who most likely will be franchise-tagged, absent a new deal. The transition tag could be a useful way to figure out Winston’s market, but that option may not be available even if the Buccaneers want to use it.

And while the transition tag ultimately provides only a right to match and no compensation, its value in a year with plenty of quarterback options comes from forcing a team that signed a player to an offer sheet to wait five days for an answer. As the clock ticks on whether the offer will be matched, other options may end up signing elsewhere.