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Double trouble: Teams should keep option of tagging a player twice

  • By Pat Kirwan NFL.com
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Albert Haynesworth was one of the best defensive tackles in the league in 2007 and now he wants to be paid like one.


The collective bargaining agreement in its present form gives clubs the right to use the franchise tag on a player more than once. With the July 15 deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign their tender offers fast approaching, some of these disgruntled players may suggest they will sign the franchise tender if the club promises not to use the tag again next year. If I were the team, I would not make such a promise and I would bet on the player signing anyway and playing out the season.

As a point of reference, the Seahawks gave up their right to use the franchise tag a second time on Shaun Alexander a few years ago and still got him signed to a long-term deal. But the Patriots did the same thing with Asante Samuel last year and never did lock him up.

The Titans are in that situation right now as Albert Haynesworth is "willing" to sign the defensive tackle tender that will pay him $7.25 million this season -- if Tennessee promises not to re-tag him in 2009. The tag goes up for players tagged the year before and a guy like Haynesworth would earn close to $15 million over the next two seasons as a franchise player. Not bad for a guy who turned 27 this week.

Haynesworth suggests he may not show up for the start of training camp if the club doesn't surrender its right to the tag in 2009, but I doubt he would give up his $424,000 weekly paycheck once the regular season begins -- and he may not want to incur the $14,000-a-day fine (a tab that could run over $400,000) for missing camp.

Haynesworth had a great season last year and arguably was the best defensive tackle in the league, which means he wants to be the highest-paid DT in the NFL. To do the deal, the Titans would have to come up with upwards of $35 million in guaranteed money and probably pay him that much in the first three years of the contract. No wonder Haynesworth doesn't want the tag for 2009. The club should stick to its guns and bank on his return without giving up a thing.

The Cowboys have a similar situation with safety Ken Hamlin, although Hamlin doesn't have nearly the same leverage as a player like Haynesworth. Hamlin is a nice player but he's not the best at his position. Yet he probably looks at the deals signed this offseason by Gibril Wilson (Oakland) and Madieu Williams (Minnesota) and seeks something close to those. But as one GM said, "I would not be so fast to sign Hamlin long-term; the tag is the right way to go for another year and the Cowboys have enough cap space that they don't have to put a big deal on the table."

I suspect the Cowboys' safety will be signed long-term before the July 15 deadline because he seems to know his place in the market. At no time should the Cowboys surrender the use of a franchise tag next year if they can't get Hamlin signed.

Problem contracts

I hear more complaints from players, club executives, agents and coaches about some recent contracts as they relate to other players wanting new deals. Players under contract want new deals because they see themselves as better than these other guys. Players not under contract are frustrated by offers on the table because of these other deals. Club executives feel like the increased money demands will leave their teams unable to sign other players before the season. Overall, things are at an all-time frustration level.

One GM said, "It was just two years ago $10 million guaranteed got anyone signed in this league. Now they all think $20 million guaranteed is closer to the right number and $30 million gets it done."

Players who stirred the pot the most in 2008, based on the number of times they were mentioned to me over the past three weeks, are: Tommie Kelly, DT, Oakland; Javon Walker, WR, Oakland; Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta; Madieu Williams, S, Minnesota; DeAngelo Hall, CB, Oakland.

Granted, guaranteed money can be misleading and occasionally it is a pumped-up number, but the truth is there continues to be a ripple effect on all concerned from these contracts.

Ronald Martinez / Getty Images
Dallas WR Terry Glenn is hesitant to sign a waiver that would protect the Cowboys in the event that he re-injures himself.

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The Glenn situation

Terry Glenn can be upset about the Cowboys asking him to sign a split contract which would drop his salary from $1.7 million to $500,000 if he re-injures his knee again. After all, Glenn feels like he hurt his knee helping the Cowboys win games. The team wants to protect itself against what happened last year when he couldn't play until Week 17. Glenn has to ask himself: If I don't sign the split and the team releases me, can I make this kind of money anywhere else at this point in my career?

The answer to that question is probably no.

As a counter to Dallas' offer, Glenn might want to ask for some incentives on the back end of the deal if he does play the season without injury. On the other hand, the Cowboys might want to sign Koren Robinson or some other free agent now and just play hardball with Glenn.

Three to go

Keep an eye on the developments surrounding these key players whose statuses for 2008 remain in question:

LaMont Jordan: He can't stay on the Raiders' roster much longer with the team up against the salary cap and Jordan scheduled to make $4.7 million. By now, it's clear that no team is going to trade for Jordan and it's time to let him go. With issues surrounding running backs in Buffalo, Denver, Arizona and a few other teams, he will be signed quickly.

Greg Wesley: The Chiefs safety is another player with little to no trade value as teams wrap up OTAs and get ready for summer vacation. Let him go find work; the Chiefs are in excellent salary cap shape and are not being pressed to do anything with Wesley at this time.

Chris Simms: I talked with Bruce Allen on Wednesday about Simms and he considers his backup quarterback a "fine young man" who started for the Bucs on three different occasions. Simms is frustrated, as the team is unsure whether to trade him or put him in the competition for a roster spot. This one is stalled for now. A team interested in a QB like Simms needs to see him throw and evaluate his health. A sensible deal could be a conditional one -- a seventh-round pick to move the player that climbs to a sixth if he makes the team; a fifth if he plays in three games; and a fourth if he plays in six games.

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