While this NFL offseason has been loaded with uncertainty surrounding a possible lockout starting in early March, we do have one piece of information to pass along. NFL teams have been told by the league they will be able to use the franchise and/or transition tag starting on February 10th.
To quote NFL senior vice president and general counsel Peter Rucco…
“The CBA hasn’t expired and the CBA has the right to franchise players so we are telling clubs that you have the right to franchise players and then depending on what the new agreement says, that will take into account. Neither party is proposing to get rid of the franchise tag. But as far as we’re concerned, clubs have the right to tag players, the agreement continues with the same terms and conditions that it has been; it isn’t expiring until March 4 and the window to franchise players is 14 days. From our standpoint, you have every right to franchise players.”
So that being said, look for Sidney Rice to be slapped with a franchise tag and be retained by the Vikings for the 2011 season barring some major changes in CBA over the offseason.
A franchise tag makes sense for Sticky considering we’ve seen two versions of him. One being the hurt and underachieving Sticky who struggles to stay on the field. The other being where Sticky evokes flashes of Randy Moss in his prime and plays like one of the best five wide receivers in the NFL. A one-year deal would guarantee Sticky is paid in the top five receivers, estimated to be 9.5 million. It also forces him to prove during the 2011 season that he deserves to be one of the highest paid wide receivers for the long term, as well as allowing the Vikings to see if there were any lingering issues from his recent hip surgery. And of course, it prohibits another team from signing Sticky away because no team would be willing to forfeit two first round draft picks for a wide receiver.
Linebacker Chad Greenway is another candidate for a franchise tag. The difference however with Greenway is he’s demonstrated years of consistency and has a much stronger case with the purple for a long-term deal.
Jon Merckle may be followed on Twitter @thevikingpig