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Wolf
07-18-2006, 12:18 AM
take it with what it is worth..rumorsite for the most part

UNION AGREES WITH NFL'S TAKE ON JULY 15 RULE

We recently addressed the NFL's interpretation of the new rule regarding the signing of franchise players to long-term deals. Under the old CBA, the rule was that signing a franchise player to a multi-year contract before July 15 resulted in the loss of the franchise tag for the life of the deal. After July 15, long-term deals between team and franchise player were fair game.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told us on Friday that the league believes the "Term Sheet" negotiated with the union in March provides that a long-term contract signed with the franchise player before July 15 restores the franchise tag for the next year.

And although there's a potential argument to be made that the plain language of the Term Sheet triggers a forfeiture of the franchise tag for the next year, the NFL Players Association agrees with the league's interpretation of the new rule.

"We agreed in the extension term sheet that they would get the tag back the next year if they signed a multi-year deal by July 15," NFLPA general counsel Richard Berthelsen told us on Monday by e-mail.

Moving forward, then, the only deadline for negotiating a long-term deal with the franchise player is July 15, and the only penalty for signing the franchise player beyond the current year is the loss of the franchise tag for the current year (which was lost in any event once it was applied to the franchise player). After July 15, any multi-year contract must be delayed until the end of the regular season.

As a practical matter, this means that the Bills won't be working out a long-term contract with cornerback Nate Clements, the team's franchise player in 2006. Clements has signed a one-year deal pursuant to which the team promised not to tag him again in 2007. Unless the Bills submit a signed contract to the league office by 4:00 p.m. EDT on Monday, there can be no new deal until after the 2006 regular season is completed.

We're still having trouble understanding why either the NFL or the union would want to create a barrier to a long-term deal in July, especially when the prior rule forced such deals into mid-July and later. We believe that there simply should be no deadline regarding the ability of the team and the franchise player to sign a long-term deal; artificially cutting off the talks can help or hurt either side, depending on the specific circumstances.

In balance, we think that the new rule helps management, since it forces the franchise player to assume the injury risk for the coming season. If/when the player completes the schedule with sound body, the team then has an exclusive window from early January until early March to work out a new contract with him. And if the player blows out a knee in November, the team will be very happy that it didn't give him $15 million to sign a Columbus Day contract.


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