Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Will franchise tags matter?

Posted by: under Vikings, NFC, Chad Greenway, Sidney Rice Updated: February 4, 2011 - 8:49 AM

There has been plenty of speculation in recent days about which free agent the Vikings might want to place their franchise tag on, if they elect to use it at all. Linebacker Chad Greenway and wide receiver Sidney Rice have been the two names mentioned most frequently.

This debate was sparked by the NFL telling its teams that they can put that tag on players whose contracts are set to end, even if there isn't a new collective bargaining agreement completed. This seemed like an odd move considering the possibility that a lockout will take place when the current CBA ends on March 4. 

Evidently the NFLPA agreed that the NFL was getting ahead of itself. The Associated  Press reported that the union sent a letter to agents Thursday to inform them the NFL was wrong about its stance on the franchise tag, which enables a team to retain a player who would have been an unrestricted free agent by offering him a one-year deal worth 120 percent of his salary from the previous season or the average of the five-highest paid at his position. That simply comes down to whichever is greater.

"Our position is that you can franchise anyone you want, by whatever date you want, but if there is no CBA, the franchise tags will be meaningless," NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith said, according to the AP story.
 
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in an e-mail to the AP that, "We are still operating under the current agreement. ... Franchise tags are always made before the start of the next league year. This is consistent with past seasons."
 
Essentially what it comes down to is worrying about whether Greenway or Rice will get the franchise tag might very well be a waste of time because it remains uncertain that any new CBA -- if and when that gets done -- would include franchise and transition designations.
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