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Report: The NFL franchise tag period has been pushed back to aid in CBA negotiations

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Originally slated to begin Tuesday February 25th, the first day to designate players under the franchise or transition tag will now be Thursday, February 27.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Carolina Panthers Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the NFL management council and the NFL players Association have agreed to push back the period for teams to designate players with either the franchise or transition tags for the 2020 season.

It seems as if this date was a point where the NFL owners needed to know under what rules they were operating for the 2020 season. If business was being conducted under the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement, the available options to some teams to reduce players salaries in order to utilize the franchise and transition tags would be much more limited. If a team is up against the salary cap, much like the Steelers are, rather than deal with the difficulty of restructuring players contracts in the final year of a CBA, the only option to free up space to use the franchise or transition tags would be to release players. If a new CBA is agreed-upon by both sides, then teams would have multiple options to reduce their salary cap numbers. In order for teams to conduct business fairly, they need to know under which set of rules they will be operating. Additionally, teams can use both a transition and franchise tag for 2020 if a new CBA is not implemented.

Last Friday the NFLPA team representatives met via conference call for several hours to discuss the proposal given to them by the owners. Rather than vote on the proposal, they decided to table the discussion and to meet with NFL representatives to discuss some of the issues. Whether or not the players are wanting to renegotiate any of the deal or to just get further clarification on some of the issues is not fully known at this time.

Agreeing to push back the starting date to designate players with either of the tags can be seen as a positive situation in hopes of reaching a new agreement. If the owners were not interested in meeting with the players or if the players knew they were going to reject the proposal, there would be no reason to push back the date. Giving both sides two more days to iron things out could help get a new deal in place in time for the 2020 season.

With not all of the owners voting in favor of the current CBA proposal, it can be inferred that some feel they are giving up too much for the players. With some players already being vocal about their feeling against the proposal, going to a vote of the players would be a positive sign and a new deal being excepted. With over half of the league playing at a minimum salary, the significant increase in pay for the league minimum would be very attractive to the majority of players.

When looking at the overview of the proposal, it appears the only real asking point on the owner’s side is the 17-game schedule. As for concessions for the players, they will see an increased amount of the revenue, higher minimum salaries, less penalties for positive drug tests, discipline actions determined by a neutral arbitrator, and less contact in practices to name a few.

As for using the franchise tag in 2020, the Steelers’ most likely candidate would be outside linebacker Bud Dupree. The Steelers have not indicated if they are willing to use the tag on Dupree, but have stated that signing him is a top priority of the off-season. In order to use the tag, the Steelers would need to clear about $16 million of salary cap space in order to use he designation.

With the new time schedule, the last day for teams to designate players under the franchise or transition tag will be Thursday, March 12.