Expect Chargers to franchise VJ
Taken from the San Diego Union Tribune.
Thursday begins a two-week period in which NFL teams can place the franchise tag on a player, essentially assuring that player won’t become a free agent and will be part of their team in 2011.
The NFL Players Association says teams have no right to a franchise tag since the current Collective Bargaining Agreement will expire March 3. The NFL says the franchise tag is included in the CBA under which the league is operating.
The Chargers, officially, have not made up their mind regarding whether to place the tag on wide receiver Vincent Jackson. The team’s personnel people have been meeting this week to decide the makeup of the team in 2011.
However, it has been known for two months that General Manager A.J. Smith has been leaning toward keeping Jackson another year.
Jackson, according to someone familiar with the player’s thinking, expects the tag and plans to play for the more than $10 million it would guarantee him.
That is, if the franchise tag is part of a new CBA.
“If there is no CBA (come March 3), the franchise tags will be meaningless,” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said last week.
It might all be semantics since most people expect the franchise tag to continue in the new CBA.
Teams are allowed to designate one player scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent with the franchise tag. That guarantees the player the average salary of the top five players at his position but prevents him from hitting the more lucrative free agent market.
If a team places the exclusive franchise tag on a player, that player cannot negotiate with other teams. The non-exclusive tag, however, allows the player to negotiate a long-term contract with other teams, the caveat being that a player’s original team is entitled to two first-round draft picks from any team that signs the player.
The franchise tag is generally applied to a player a team wants but is either uncomfortable giving a long-term deal or cannot reach agreement with on a long-term deal.
The Jackson situation features a little of both.
The Chargers value Jackson’s game-changing ability but are unwilling to pay him what he is seeking, a price that was $50 million over five years with $30 million guaranteed last year and is certain to rise.
Jackson’s 2,888 yards led the Chargers from 2007-09. But he has been arrested twice since 2006 for driving under the influence and on the morning of the team’s 2010 playoff loss to the New York Jets was detained and charged with driving on a suspended license.
Jackson was suspended by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell the first three games of 2010 for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
The 28-year-old receiver did not report to the Chargers until Oct. 30, however, following a lengthy contract impasse. He had initially planned to sit out the entire season in protest over the Chargers one-year tender of $3.268 million and refusal to work out a multi-year contract. Ultimately, upon advice of the NFLPA, he reported in time to be on the roster for six weeks, which guaranteed his unrestricted free agent status. Jackson ended up playing in four games, catching 14 passes for 248 yards and three touchdowns, making $280,823 in the process.
Should Jackson get another DUI (or get in any trouble the league deems detrimental) his punishment could be the loss of game checks or another suspension.
Franchising Jackson ostensibly gives the Chargers another year to evaluate whether he can stay out of trouble, though a major shift in the thinking of the team’s decision makers would have to occur for Jackson to ever get a long-term deal in San Diego.
A team can structure a deal that partially protects them in the event a player runs into trouble. But teams are limited, essentially, to recouping a limited portion of a signing bonus.
The Miami Dolphins last April gave Brandon Marshall, who had multiple run-ins with the law and had been suspended, a five-year $47.5 million contract that only really guaranteed him $9.5 million. If they choose to pay him a $3 million roster bonus this year, which they are expected to do, it will also guarantee his next two years’ salaries and bring his three-year guaranteed total to $25 million.
The willingness to pay Jackson more than $10 million for one season but not over the long term indicates the Chargers, like many teams, simply do not want to invest that much in a wide receiver.
Instead, the Chargers likely will pay Jackson for 2011 and then let him walk, receiving what would probably be a third-round compensatory draft pick.
My gut feeling is that the Rams are not going to make an offer on VJ but his appearance (or lack of) on the FA market does change the situation for the Rams regardless. Maybe a team signs VJ and opts not to draft one, the more talent in the pool the more chances the rams have at pulling one in.
Re: Expect Chargers to franchise VJ
Not that surprising at all. I'll be shocked if the Vikings don't use either the franchise or transition tag on Rice as well.