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Teams Can Begin Application Of Franchise Tag Today

The NFL notified teams that beginning today they can apply the franchise tag and/or the transition tag on a player(s) they want to retain for the 2011 season.

It has been reported for some time that the Eagles will place the franchise tag on quarterback Michael Vick. The latest report comes from NFL Network's Jason LaCanfora who stated that it will be applied to Vick by no later than next week. Teams have two weeks to make a decision.

According to Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News, the reason the Eagles must use the franchise tag on Vick is because the Pro Bowl quarterback reached incentives in 2010 that eliminated the possibility of doing a long-term extension under the current framework of the Collective Bargaining Agreement which expires at midnight on March 4.

Under the franchise tag, the player is tendered a one-year contract at the average of the five highest-paid players at his position or 120 percent of the player's 2010 salary, whatever is higher. With the transition tag, a player is tendered a one-year contract at the average of the top 10 highest-paid players at his position or 120 percent of the player's 2010 salary.

The franchise tag value at the quarterback position was $16.405 million in 2010.

Players can still negotiate a contract with other teams once free agency begins, a major question mark because of the unresolved labor situation. The biggest difference between the tags is that if another team signs a franchise player, the original team receives two first-round draft picks as compensation. The original team gets no compensation with the transition tag.

Even though the NFL has told teams that they can use the tags, it doesn't mean that the tags will be included in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. However, teams must act as if they exist to retain the rights of the player(s). It is expected that the tags will be in the new labor agreement, but the exact language regarding their usage could change.

As part of the uncapped 2010 year, teams were allotted the use of one franchise tag and one transition tag or two transition tags. It was reported by The Boston Globe that teams this year can use one franchise tag and/or one transition tag, but not two transition tags.

The Eagles have used the franchise tag three times in the Andy Reid era, but only one player ended up playing under the agreement. Jeremiah Trotter and Corey Simon were given the franchise tag, but neither player signed the tender and the Eagles eventually removed the tag allowing each player to become an unrestricted free agent. In 2008, tight end L.J. Smith played under the franchise tag.

-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 10:45 a.m., February 10

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