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Union disputes league claim that franchise tags are available

DeMaurice Smith

FILE - In this Oct. 19, 2010 file photo, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith speaks in St Paul, Minn. The NFL Players Association has turned to Congress for help in preventing an owners’ lockout next season, drafting letters for lawmakers to send to the league and holding a briefing for members of Congress and their aides on the economic impact of a labor dispute, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig, File)


The NFL has told teams that the franchise tag will be available to them this offseason. But the NFL Players’ Association disagrees.

In a memo to all NFLPA certified agents, the union said that the league cannot restrict players’ movement by using the franchise tag.

“We have received reports that the NFL is advising clubs that they can place a franchise tag on players whose contracts will expire at the end of the 2010 league year,” the Union says in the memo, a copy of which was obtained by PFT.

“The current CBA provides that ‘each club shall be permitted to designate one of its players who would otherwise be an Unrestricted Free Agent [or Restricted Free Agent] as a Franchise Player each season during the term of this Agreement.’ 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.

“If you have had any discussions with clubs about their intent to use the Franchise designation for the 2011 season please contact the NFLPA to discuss this matter. Meanwhile, we will make sure that the rights of any players improperly designated will be protected.”

So we can add the franchise tag to the list of items that the league and the union disagree about, with a month to go before a likely lockout.