Will Tamba Hali become the Chiefs newest member of the franchise player fraternity on Thursday?
That’s the day that NFL teams have a two-week window to use the franchise player designation on one of the veteran players who is about to become a free agent.
But whether or not the franchise tag comes out and gets applied to Hali is a far bigger question than just the negotiations between the outside linebacker and the team. It’s part of the labor battle between the NFL owners and players that threatens the 2011 season.
In a nutshell: the NFL has told teams that starting February 10 they can designate a franchise or transition player(s). The NFL Players Association says the teams cannot give the designation of franchise or transition player because the agreement between the parties is about to run out on March 3rd.
The issue between the owners and union is about interpretation of language in the soon to expire collective bargaining agreement that allows for application of the franchise tag “in any season during the term of this Agreement.”
The CBA is in place until March 3 so technically the Tag can be used now. However, once the Agreement expires, all bets are off subject to negotiation of a new agreement.
The union said in a statement given to agents last week that “The 2011 season is not a ‘season during the term of this Agreement’ so the NFL has no valid basis for claiming the right to franchise players in 2011.”
“Our position is you can franchise anyone you want by whatever date you want,” said NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said last week during a press conference in Dallas at the Super Bowl. “But if there’s no CBA, the franchise tag would be meaningless.”
As a refresher, here is what the tags mean:
A franchise player can be designated by each team to prevent the player from becoming an unrestricted free agent. He must be offered a contract at 120 percent of his salary from the previous season or the average of the five highest-paid players at his position. There are two levels of franchise designation: exclusive and non-exclusive. The first is obvious – the player cannot negotiate with another team. Non-exclusive allows him to negotiate and even sign an offer-sheet. But the original team can match, or refuse and receive two first-round draft choices in return.
A transition player is also an unrestricted free agent, who has to be offered a contract at 120 percent of his salary from the previous season or the average of the top 10 salaries from 2010 at his position, whichever is great. That tag gives the team the right to match any offer the player receives in seven days. If they chose not to, the team receives compensation.
OK, so what does this mean with Hali, the team’s best defensive player in 2010 and the AFC’s sack leader? If the Chiefs use the franchise player tag, that’s a tender offer that would have to equal $10.191 million for the 2011 season. A transition tag would be $8.943 million.
That the Chiefs need to work out a deal with Hali is without question. No matter the financial demands, they cannot allow a player of Hali’s talent, performance and age (27) get away. Barring major injuries, he should have five or six more years of productive play ahead of him. It’s impossible to believe he still has something to prove to the team and coaches. Nobody works harder and plays with a faster motor than No. 91, and he’s a clubhouse leader who handles things the right way.
In fact, it’s hard to believe at this point why the Chiefs did not get a deal done with Hali during the 2010 season. They got new deals done with LBs Derrick Johnson and Andy Studebaker and RB Jamaal Charles, but those are small deals compared to what will go down with Hali.
Using the franchise player designation would allow the Chiefs to see how the new labor agreement shakes out and where the numbers might come in for an outside linebacker. It’s going to be a nice payday for Hali. In 2009, Baltimore’s Terrell Suggs signed a six-year, $62.5 million deal with $38.1 million in guaranteed money. Also that year, DeMarcus Ware signed a deal with the Cowboys for six years, $78 million with $40 million guaranteed.
The Chiefs approach to dealing with Hali remains a mystery, as does most of the front office’s plans on dealing with multiple situations. But what matters for the Chiefs is that when they take the field for training camp, Tamba Hali is on the field.
NFL PERSONNEL FILE FOR WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 9
- BROWNS – released DT Shaun Rogers, LB Eric Barton, LB David Bowens, TE Robert Royal, OT John St. Clair and DL Kenyon Coleman.
- CARDINALS – named Ray Horton defensive coordinator; named DeShea Townsend as defensive backs coach and Louie Ciofffi as assistant defensive backs coach.
- COLTS – named David Walker as running backs coach and Devin Fitzsimmons as coaching assistant.
- FALCONS – GM Thomas Dimitroff was named the NFL Executive of the Year; released S Erik Coleman; signed LB Coy Wire to a contract extension.
- JETS – signed K Nick Novak.
- JAGUARS – lost QB coach Todd Monken who left to become offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State.
- PATRIOTS – DB coach Corwin Brown and strength and conditioning coach Mike Woicik have left the team.
- SEAHAWKS – signed DT Barrett Moen.
- TITANS – named Bruce Matthews as offensive line coach.