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Franchise-tagged players affected by looming uncapped year

With an uncapped year looming for 2010, everyone will be playing under an entirely different set of rules.

One rule creates a situation that makes it appear as if this year's franchised players have taken two steps forward and one back.

Franchise-tag recap

An NFL-record 14 players were franchise tagged this year. Adam Schefter breaks down the complete list, which includes Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers. More ...

This offseason, franchise tags were handed out to unrestricted free agents Darren Sproles, Brandon Jacobs, Matt Cassel, Dunta Robinson, O.J. Atogwe, Leroy Hill, and Michael Koenen.

Each of these players completed their fourth year last season. But the collective bargaining agreement that eliminates the salary cap in 2010, also says that players do not get to become unrestricted free agents until their sixth season.

Thus, seven unrestricted free agents that were designated franchise players this offseason will revert back to be restricted free agents next offseason.

Now it's not entirely bad. The collective bargaining agreement says these franchised players will be entitled to a 10 percent raise in 2010. But they will not be allowed to become unrestricted free agents.

How odd, going from an unrestricted free agent to a restricted one. It is one of the many new rules to a different game the NFL will be playing.

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