- Journal Archives
- Volume 17
- Volume 16
- Volume 15
- Volume 14
- Volume 13
- Volume 12
- Volume 11
- Volume 10
- Volume 9
- Volume 8
- Volume 7
- Volume 6
- Volume 5
- Volume 4
- Volume 3
- Volume 2
- Volume 1
The July 16, 2012, deadline for NFL teams to sign long-term contracts with players designated as franchise players came and went. That deadline marked the date on which the terms of the franchise tag are automatically instituted.
What does the franchise tag mean for players and organizations? Where did it come from? Why don’t players like it? This primer tells you what you need to know.
Each team is allowed to designate one free agent as their franchise player. Once designated, the player is prohibited from negotiating with other teams. The player’s current team has a limited time to exclusively negotiate and enter into a long-term contract with the player. If no agreement is reached during the period, the player is then required to enter into a one-year NFL contract with his current team for a pre-determined salary equal to the higher of 120% of the player’s previous year’s salary or a formula based primarily on the top five salaries at the player’s position. The new collective bargaining agreement adjusted the formula for determining the salary rate by averaging, for the first time, salaries over the previous five years, and considering franchise tags handed out over the past five years. This effectively lowered the franchise salary rate. Here are this year’s and last year’s rates by position, in millions:
|Position||2012 Rates||2011 Rates|
|Offensive Lineman (average)||$9.4||$10.1|
History and Controversy
The franchise tag was created to help teams in smaller markets keep their star players. It was believed that teams would use the franchise tag, and then negotiate in good faith with franchised players to reach long-term contracts. Unfortunately, it’s not clear that that is how it has been used, with one NFL executive saying, “[u]sally, the tag isn’t for your ‘franchise player,’ it is for your best-available free agent.” Teams use the franchise tag to put pressure on players to sign contracts at lower values, by preventing them from testing the free-agent market. Perhaps because of this, more than half of franchised players don’t sign a long-term contract and end up playing out the one-year contract. Players generally don’t like this, because they risk being injured or underperforming during the one-year contract, which can reduce their free-agent market value from where it might have been the year before. One agent, who represents multiple players who have been tagged, said, “[t]hey should call it a prison tab. It locks the player in, keeps him in jail contractually, doesn’t allow him to test what his true market is, or seek what his compensation should be. It’s take it or leave it.”
Recent Results of the Franchise Tag
Some players, like New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (5 year; $100 million) and Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice (5 years; $40 million) signed deals just in time. Others, including New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker, accepted their fate and agreed to sign their franchise tender offers. Still others, like Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, refused to sign and have continued to seek a better deal by refusing to show up to training camp.
Does the franchise system lead to unconscionable results? Does it give teams an unfair advantage when it comes to bargaining with players? Players subject to the franchise tag undoubtedly think so. Nevertheless, because it was agreed to in the new collective bargaining agreement, the franchise system is here to stay for at least the foreseeable future.
Recent Blog Posts
- The Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law Jumps Thirty-One Spots to Highest Ranking Ever
- Hiding Behind the Computer Screen: James Woods Files Defamation Lawsuit Against a Twitter User
- Let’s Enjoy Fantasy Football…While We Can
- Guest Post: Tweeting Away Patient Privacy
- Naturally Occurring or Mind-made?
- Does China’s 2022 Winter Olympics Song Intentionally Plagiarized ‘Frozen’s’ ‘Let It Go’?
Tagsadvertising antitrust Apple books career celebrities contracts copyright copyright infringement courts creative content criminal law entertainment Facebook FCC film/television financial First Amendment games Google government intellectual property internet JETLaw journalism lawsuits legislation media medicine Monday Morning JETLawg music NFL patents privacy progress publicity rights radio social networking sports Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) technology telecommunications trademarks Twitter U.S. Constitution