New York Jets tight end Dustin Keller is not interested in the franchise tag when his rookie contract expires after this season. The five-year NFL veteran missed seven games this season with hamstring and ankle injuries.
"I don't want to be franchised," Keller told the New York Daily News on Thursday. "You want to make sure that you're going somewhere and you're signing something that was your decision. You don't want to be told that you're doing something for whatever price. You want to make that decision for yourself. You don't want somebody else making it for you. I would love to come back here, but when I came here, I signed a five-year deal and this is the fifth year on it.
"You want to be able to make that decision for yourself. That'd be illegal in another job."
The rules surrounding the franchise tag are a whole other discussion. They're part of the collective bargaining agreement and aren't changing until it's renegotiated.
The 2013 franchise tag for tight ends is tentatively set for $5.962 million. That's probably more than Keller would command as a free agent but without the security of a multiyear deal. He had a career year in 2011 with 65 receptions for 815 yards and five touchdowns. He played in all 64 games his first four years. But he's not on the list with the top tight ends in the NFL.
"My thinking always was that if they want me to, I will play out this deal and sign a new contract (after the season)," Keller said. "That's my word. The whole franchise tag deal is crazy. Somebody played out their contract, but now you can make them come back for another year even if it's not something they want to do? That's not the situation that I'm in right now, but I just think it's crazy.
"I don't feel anything, to be honest. There's been no signs to show me that there's a possibility of me coming back. Nobody's said anything. So we'll see."
Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter @kareemcopeland.